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Auctioneers bring smiles to patients

Auctioneers came to St. Jude to conduct the annual toy auction.

Auctioneers Barbara Bonnette and John Nicholls were at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital on November 6 as part of their prize package for being the National Auctioneer Association’s top male and female international bid-callers.

But the duo wasn’t here for just a tour and a visit. They had some auction business to take care of.

As part of their championship status, Bonnette and Nicholls get to conduct the annual toy auction at St. Jude, a special event that has been conducted for the past 11 years by the NAA.

With play money given to them after they received their bid paddles, the children at St. Jude enjoyed out-bidding each other for prizes while Bonnette and Nicholls recognized the bids with their quick, repetitive auctioneer-speak. And even if a patient was outbid, he or she got another chance to win. Each child gets a toy, and no one leaves empty-handed.

“It’s not a task. It’s not a chore. It’s a privilege,” said Nicholls about conducting the toy auction.

With the struggles that take place every day inside the walls of St. Jude, Nicholls hoped he and Bonnette brought some joy and fun to the kids and families. He didn’t expect the feeling he would have afterward. “You leave there walking on a cloud,” he said. “You go in there to encourage them, and they end up encouraging you.”

The NAA has been a partner with St. Jude for more than a decade and includes supporting the Get Sold fund-raising program, where auctioneers seek donated items from community businesses and donate the money obtained from the auction of these items to St. Jude. Since the program began, more than $3.7 million has been raised for the hospital.