Thursday usually finds Interim Dean Dennis D. Spencer, M.D., HS ’77, in the operating room. But last November 20, he was on the stage in Harkness Auditorium, trying to raise money for the 11th annual Hunger and Homelessness Auction.
“I grew up on a farm,” he said. “I’m used to auctioning off cattle. We started at $2,000.”
Rather than cattle on the block that day, bidders could vie for weeklong stays at Vermont ski condos, dinners with deans, afternoon sloop sails in New Haven Harbor, or airplane rides over Connecticut.
Among the more offbeat items this year were break dance lessons by second-year student Edward Teng and a polar bear swim offered by second-year student Duncan Smith-Rohrberg, who agreed to plunge into the bidder’s choice of body of water and stay in for five minutes plus another minute for each $2 donated—to a maximum of $20. A group of his classmates offered $100 if he went in naked.
The auction has expanded over the years. What was once concentrated in a rowdy two hours in the auditorium now takes place over a week and includes several new events. First- and second-years hold a fund-raising football game on Harkness Lawn; there’s a “hunger banquet” to introduce people to the world of the food-deprived; a party at the weekly “Club Med” gathering in Harkness Dormitory benefits the auction fund; and for three days preceding the live auction there’s a silent auction in the Sterling Hall of Medicine.
This year’s auction netted more than $20,000, which will go to Loaves and Fishes, LifeHaven, Youth Continuum, New Haven Home Recovery, Community Health Care Van, Downtown Evening Soup Kitchen and St. Thomas More, the Chapel and Catholic Center at Yale.