Auction helps homeless

The country may be in the midst of an economic recession, but that did not stop one School of Medicine student from forking over $500 for a pink, dolphin-patterned bow tie, donated by Bill Stuart, an Anatomy professor.

The bow tie was just one of many items up for grabs at last night’s auction to raise money for the Elm City’s hungry and homeless. Now in its sixteenth year, the Hunger and Homelessness Week, organized by Yale medical students, typically raises around $30,000. The live auction, which took place at Marigolds, concluded ten days of informational panels and a movie showing.

Throughout the week, medical school students and faculty had opportunities to place bids on over 300 items. As the final minutes of the silent auction wound down, individuals vied to be the last to bid on such items as “exclusive anatomy lessons with Dr. O’Brien for you and three friends, starting at $50,” “a no–hassles party complete with supplies run, and set-up and clean-up crew, starting at $25” and an “evaluation for adult ADD, starting at $25.”

The live auction’s big ticket items included “the bow tie”, a “Beef and Beer Dinner for eight” that went to a rambunctious group of first year medical school students for $725, and a “Girls Night Out.”

Margaret Bia, a professor of medicine, was part of the group of women that donated the “Girls Night Out” item — an event that includes the “sharing of gossip and wisdom,” as she put it.

As servers circulated the room with glasses of red and white wine, students nursed beers and chatted about their open heart surgery labs and their caffeine addictions while others heckled and cheered on their bidding compatriots.

Although student initiative drove the event to fruition, it was the faculty who came in with money to spend, said Nancy Angoff, the associate dean for student affairs at the School of Medicine.

Individuals interviewed said that the event symbolized Yale at its best: it is about students caring about, and being active in, their community.

While the event is organized by second-year medical students, all first-year students participate in some capacity. Third- and fourth-year students typically just attend and bid, said Annie Engberg MED ’11, who donated a dozen cupcakes to the silent auction.

The money raised at the auction is distributed to various non-profit organizations in the New Haven community through a grant process, the event’s organizers said.

Mike O’Sullivan, director of the New Haven Community Soup Kitchen, said receiving a check of between $4000 and $5000 in November is a tremendous relief for the kitchen, which raises about 60 percent of its income between September and December.

“Its enough to keep us running for about two weeks at 1,000 meals a week,” O’Sullivan said.

Attendees interviewed said that the event succeeded because of the passion and enthusiasm of the students and the involvement of the faculty.

“I want to thank the faculty,” the professional auctioneer in charge of the night’s fund raising activity said. “It’s because of your participation that this whole thing works.”

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