A few months ago, it looked like COVID-19 would force the cancellation of the province’s oldest, and arguably most popular charity quilt auction. Begun 47 years ago by the Elmira District Community Living (EDCL), the fundraiser enables EDCL to provide much-needed supports and services not provided by government for individuals who have intellectual disabilities.

Fortunately, Elmer Brubacher, chair of the auction committee, found a solution in technology. He approached long-time EDCL supporter and auctioneer Gary Jantzi (Jantzi Auctions Ltd.), who generously agreed to conduct an online auction using his HiBid platform. “This means we’ll have an online auction at the same time as live bidding,” explained Elmer. Pictures of the items being auctioned will be available online on the Jantzi Auction site (https://www.jantziauctions.net/) approximately two weeks prior to the auction.

The combination of live and online was essential. “The Mennonite community are strong supporters and donors in so many ways,” says Elmer. “Because the horse-and-buggy Mennonites don’t have Internet access, it’s important that we can invite them to the auction centre.” However, he adds, “we ask that just one family member comes to the auction, so that everyone has a chance to bid.”

The Elmira Produce Auction Cooperative will be the site of the live and silent auctions as it has been for several years. The location will be open from 9am to 5pm on Friday, October 30 and again at 9am on Saturday, October 31. People are welcome to come by on Friday to bid on silent auction items and to view the quilts and hand-crafted furniture that will be auctioned on Saturday, October 31. Reserve bids on quilts may be placed on Friday. Online bidders are encouraged to enjoy the auction from home.

EDCL is working closely with Waterloo Regional Public Health on health and safety protocols. “Sadly, there will be no brisket dinner,” says EDCL Executive Director, Greg Bechard. “But we’re planning to provide everything else, just in a different way.”

As EDCL’s biggest annual fundraiser, proceeds from the quilt auction have made possible such important initiatives as residential support for adults with an intellectual disability and a model of independent housing that has been recognized in Canada’s national housing strategy.

“We’re so grateful to the quilters and the makers of handcrafted furniture for their generosity and creativity, and to the many people who have supported the auction for so many years,” says Greg. “This year, we hope to welcome even more people – virtually.”

Final details for the auction are being worked out in conjunction with Waterloo Region Public Health and will be available next week. The Auction committee can promise to have the quilt, new furniture and silent auctions this year, as well as the outside sale of farm and yard items. The committee is also making plans for the ever popular giant bake table, although it may be held at a separate location, due to the limitations in the number of people allowed to attend the auction – 100 people total and only 50 inside at one time. So stay tuned!

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