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Annual Oak Hall fundraiser goes virtual with series of online auctions

Michael D. Smith
The Daily Ardmoreite

Oak Hall Episcopal School has held an annual fundraiser since 1981 that has grown to be one of the school’s largest funding events. The fundraiser draws hundreds of attendees and has raised thousands of dollars over the years but organizers are being more conservative with their expectations this year. 

“We don’t really have a goal in mind. Of course we’d like to make what we made last year, but being realistic with it being virtual, you just never know,” said Oak Hall development and enrollment director Jennifer Crosby. 

Attendees of the Oak Hall Episcopal School annual fundraiser are seen in this file photo from the Ardmore Convention Center Friday, Jan. 26, 2018. For the first time since 1981, the annual fundraiser has been moved to a virtual setting because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The coronavirus pandemic has sent the annual Oak Hall fundraiser virtual with silent and live online auctions this week, but obvious omissions from previous events will be the dinner and dance. Regardless of the precautions taken because of COVID-19, organizers still kept a bit of humor when developing the theme for the 2021 event. 

“The theme this year is “Mask-erade” so get comfy on your couch, grab your phone and a computer or tablet and get ready to have a great time for a good cause,” reads a letter from the school.  

The fundraisers started at the Chickasaw Lake Club and over the years moved to the Hardy Murphy Coliseum, Oak Hall campus, and most recently the Ardmore Convention Center, according to Crosby. The events would be attended by upwards of 350 guests and would auction off hundreds of items donated by local businesses and individuals. 

This year will still see more than 120 items over a four-day virtual silent auction and conclude with a live auction on Thursday evening. The auctions will use BidPal, an online fundraising and auction platform. According to Onecause, the Indiana-based company that manages the platform, over 20,000 fundraisers on the platform have raised $2 billion since 2007. 

Crosby said parts of organizing the fundraiser have remained the same, including the people who volunteer to rally support. “I do have a silent auction committee that usually is made up of parents and myself and we just tag-team and call individuals and businesses in the surrounding community who are so kind to always donate to our silent auction,” she said. 

Some items available for the silent auction include a set of Michelin tires manufactured in Ardmore, an oral care package from Walnut Rance Dental Spa, and a season pass to the Ardmore Community Water Park. Services and experiences available during the silent auction include an SCDance summer dance camp and an escort to school from the Carter County Sheriff’s Department. 

The silent auction will be held Monday, Jan. 25, through Thursday, Jan. 28, between 9 a.m. and 8 p.m. each day. 

A live auction will be held over Zoom video conferencing on Thursday, Jan. 28,  at 7 p.m. and will feature four items including a private cooking party from chef Justin Germany, two nights at the Broken Bow Fireside Creek Cabin, and a collection of items to pamper someone from Storts Family Dentistry, Life’s Cycles Women’s Care and AboutFace Aesthetics. 

Organizers will need an email address for anyone interesting in taking part in the live auction on Thursday. Those interested can preregister online at https://my.bidpal.net/oakhall or call Oak Hall Episcopal School at (580) 226-2341.