June 24, 2008

Dist. 214 Uses eBay to Raise Money

By Eileen O. Daday Daily Herald Correspondent

Forget the fancy dinner dances and auctions.

Officials with Northwest Suburban High School District 214 Continuing Education's foundation have found a direct way of drawing prospective bidders - eBay.

Beginning at 7 a.m. Friday and lasting through Tuesday, the foundation will mount its second online auction on eBay. A direct link to the store is available at both District 214's Web site, www.d214.org, and at the community education site, www.CE214.org.

"We've had golf outings and days at the races, but this is unique," says Michael Field, community education executive director. "To the best of my knowledge, we're the only Northwest Suburban agency to do this."

It will feature as many as 40 items, including experiences unique to the Northwest suburbs, as well as an assortment of sports and restaurant packages.

During its first auction, held in the fall of 2005, a Blues Brothers tour - that visited all of the Chicago sites where the 1980 movie was filmed - drew hits from as far away as Texas, officials say.

Once again, members of the Mount Prospect Police Department have stepped up to lead the tour this year, in their replica Blues Brothers car, and returning to the village's new Blues Bar in downtown Mount Prospect afterward for lunch.

Other specialty items include: the chance to sit on the reviewing stand of the Arlington Heights July 4th parade, be a "roadie" for the band "Hothouse Flowers," serve as a House page in the Illinois Legislature, host a chef in your home for Italian cooking lessons, and a trip for two to Costa Rica.

Field says that their first online auction surprised them with the amount of interest it drew, though they did not have counters on the site to gage its exact number of hits.

"We had no idea what to expect, but it drew significant interest," Field says. "In this age of technology, going online has become part of our culture, where people use it as much for entertainment as they do to find bargains."

The first auction more than doubled the expected goal, Field said, and raised $12,500 for community education programming. Typically, some 50,000 residents in the Northwest suburbs take advantage of its offerings.

Programs range from adult education and family literacy classes, and the Kids on Track program for Arlington Park Racetrack backstretch families, to educational travel and performing arts opportunities.

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