This years auction was almost not going to happen..I kept thinking maybe three is enough. That I should kill the event while it is still well received and not wait for it to become old news.

Truth be told, I love putting on this event. I get to reach out to all my friends, meet up with them for a few minutes to pick-up their donation, and catch up. What was cool this year was filling them in on what a difference their previous contributions have made. You see, I have been doing this event for 4 years now..and that is enough time to see and hear about how much of a difference the work we do effects kids that live in our neighborhood. Kids we walk by on our way home for work, or that we cross paths with at Essex St. Market shopping with their parents. One of the cool things about the LES Girls Club is that they are right here, among us. These are our neighborhood kids, our youth, the kids you see walking home from school with their friends on Orchard Street. I don’t know how your neighborhood is, but mine is like a big family, and we take care of each other.

One day in early January I was sitting in front of my computer and realized if I was going to do another auction I would have to get started ASAP. I felt like maybe doing this for a fourth time would be too much to ask from my donors. Maybe drawing from the wells a fourth time would find them dry, and that I wouldn’t be able to capture that momentum I had harnessed the first 3 years. It’s that momentum that carries the event to success. One person donating and then another, and another, and with each social media post, another person donates. The snowball effect of social media posts is really amazing. Sharing all the donated items gives the event legitimacy in the minds of people that have never seen it before. The skeptics that think theres something shady going on. That momentum is what I’m addicted to.

The days before the event I am usually glued to my lapt top scheduling pick ups and responding to new donors who just heard about the event…it’s craziness. But I love it..its a rush, a high like you can’t imagine..seeing this thing come together before my eyes..knowing there are over 100 items that all my friends are going to be stoked to bid on. I love to bring that to them. I love giving my friends this ability to donate something amazing, that gives their business or talent exposure to hundreds of people if not thousands (social media). I love that other friends can show support by attending and bidding on all the amazing stuff and all the while knowing that every dollar goes towards the kids. You only get one childhood and to think that i can help create a better one for these kids to look back on when they’re my age, it is a reward that exceeds anything money can buy. I do this event because I have to. If i have the ability to generate this kind of change, it is my social responsibility to do so. I know what it is like to struggle, to barely get by and the idea that i can help a family with a kid get through something like that, how could i not? If you have the ability to help, you must do so..it is an obligation as part of the human race to help elevate each other. If everyone did just a little bit, just made the minimum effort, the improvement in the overall quality life for all of us would be staggering. I just happen to be someone that saw how real that is, and I decided to do something about it. I urge all of you to do the same, believe me the rewards out-weigh the costs.

This years auction was a huge success and i haven’t even counted a dollar yet. Over 225 people came through and bid heavy on a snowy, freezing night in March. I am so proud of what we have accomplished in 4 years, never mind the monetary contributions, Im talking about the growing of awareness. Thousands of people now know the LES Girls Club because of this event, its contributors, its attendees and its volunteers. I am forever in your debt. Will this be the last one..I don’t know. I need to find a new way to continue my work for these kids..I am open to taking on partners to help make more impact. Email me if you’re interested in stepping up and doing something amazing: joe@orchardstreetrunners.com

Thank you to my partners Ludlow Studios and Top Hops, my DJs Shadi, Jinx, and Nick, all my volunteers, attendees and winning bidders.

Please enjoy these beautiful photos documented by Zachary Hilty Photography

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