St. Paul Lutheran School students, from left, Hannah Paul, Sam McBride and Konnor Kivimagi, hold items that will be on the school's annual basket auction on Sunday, May 18. GRETCHEN MENSINK LOVEJOY/CHATFIELD NEWS
St. Paul Lutheran School students, from left, Hannah Paul, Sam McBride and Konnor Kivimagi, hold items that will be on the school's annual basket auction on Sunday, May 18. GRETCHEN MENSINK LOVEJOY/CHATFIELD NEWS
Buy the baskets and get the contagious spirit absolutely free!

The St. Paul Lutheran School basket auction is set for Sunday, May 18, at St. Paul Lutheran Church in Chatfield, benefiting the parochial school's general operation fund.

"There is a spirit that is unexplainable," said organizer Shawn Reps. "Once that first basket is auctioned off, the spirit is contagious. It is a lot of fun! You have to come to understand it."

The auction, which features donated themed baskets and a luncheon, is a highlight of the church and school year.

"The auction is the school's largest fundraiser of the year. We normally have anywhere from 50 to 100 baskets," related Reps. "We try to have something for everyone. A lot of things surprise me - even after five years of holding the auction, there is still so much variety in the baskets and the things that are donated, and no one can ever guess what will sell for what amount."

This year's offerings include purses, coffees, seeds, plants, certificates, toy tractors and much more. Reps said there are tractors from Hammell Equipment and St. Joseph Equipment, a Keurig coffeemaker, a homemade barn made by one of the school's members and many certificates from local businesses.

"The students each make a project to donate to the auction," Reps added. "Some examples this year are stepping stones, drawings, paintings, jewelry and a wood-burned welcome sign. They also help with the lunch and inviting people to the auction."

Reps cited that the auction provides a chance for the community to come together and enjoy one another's company while supporting St. Paul's school.

"The auction is a fun opportunity to come support our school by stocking up on gifts for showers, graduations, weddings, birthdays, even something for yourself," she said. "My favorite part is watching the children when their projects are auctioned off. I paid $125 for my daughter's stepping stone last year. They take much pride in their work. And I love it when someone pays all that money and then hands their basket to the person they were bidding against. It gives me goose bumps. There is a generosity that takes place."

She pointed out the school has had many exciting changes this year, as she and one of her fellow staff members have become the principal teachers and the preschool is rounding out its 10th year at the end of May.

"We are hopeful we will break our record that we made a couple years ago of $11,000," Reps said. "Come join us for an afternoon of fellowship and fun. And as always, a special thank you to Paul Gathje for being our auctioneer."

St. Paul Lutheran School's fifth annual basket auction is set for Sunday, May 18, at St. Paul Lutheran Church, the big brick church on the corner of Fillmore Street. A preview of baskets is slated for 11:15 a.m., lunch of hot dogs, barbecues, chips and root beer floats at 11:30 a.m., and the live auction at 12:15 p.m.

For more information, contact Shawn Reps at mrsreps@stpaulchatfield.org.