Merced County Realtors' group earns $30K for needy

May 13, 2013 

There will more food to go around in the coming months for those in need in Merced County.

That's because the Merced County Association of Realtors Charitable Foundation's annual spring auction this week raised nearly $30,000.

Loren Gonella, owner of Coldwell Banker Gonella Realty, and his team held the Real Estate Professionals & Friends Feed the Hungry auction. Other participating businesses were Century 21 M&M and Associates and Tinetti Realty Group. The event sponsor was the California Regional Multiple Listing Service.

Proceeds from the 186 items auctioned off Tuesday will benefit The Salvation Army in Merced, Merced County Food Bank and Merced County Rescue Mission, organizers said.

A crowd of about 150 gathered at the association's offices at 635 W. Main St. to bid on items, beginning with a silent auction and breakfast at 7:30 a.m. That was followed at 8 by a live auction.

Donors pitched in with 60 additional auction items this year compared with a year ago, organizers said.

Gonella said that with the difficult economy he worried that people wouldn't donate many items, wouldn't attend the event and wouldn't do much bidding. "But people opened up their hearts and their wallets," he said. "It's just incredible to me how people in our community pull together to help others. It's a special place."

Lively bidding was sparked by a Disneyland trip for four, sports memorabilia, a Castle Air Museum lunch and tour, a hiking adventure, a Napa Valley Wine Train tour, spa treatments, technology services, artwork and tickets to Oakland A's and San Francisco Giants games.

There were also gift cards for meals, specialty food items and group dinners to be hosted by Supervisors John Pedrozo, Hub Walsh and Deidre Kelsey.

Former Supervisor Kathleen Crookham donated a barbecue dinner for 12 at her ranch.

Organizers said the success of the spring auction made the four months spent organizing the fund-raiser worthwhile.

The foundation's fall auction is being headed by Mike Salvadori, Century 21 Salvadori Realty.

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