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Easter Basket Auction ‘champions’ Provo School District’s after-school programs

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The 15th Annual Easter Basket Auction is on Thursday, April 13, 2017 at 6:30 p.m. at the Riverside Country Club in Provo, Utah. (Photo courtesy Provo School District)

Early in his business career, a mentor warned Brent Brown that he would receive a lot of requests from charitable organizations asking for money. Realistically, Brown knew he couldn’t support all of the organizations that would contact him about donations, so he took this advice from his mentor: “Choose a category and then champion it.”

And now Brown has been championing the Easter Basket Auction for 14 years, an event he organized to help raise funds for the Provo School District after-school programs. Provo School District first approached Brown about donating to the after-school programs 14 years ago, but Brown saw an opportunity to do more.

“I think realistically they were probably hoping to get a check for $1,000 or so,” said Brown, the owner of Brent Brown Toyota. “I thought the easy thing to do here would be to write a check and send them on their way.”

But that wasn’t enough for Brown.

Since it wasn’t far from Easter, Brown came up with the idea to hold an auction selling Easter baskets with items donated by local businesses.

“I chose a long time ago to support education. … To me, the area in our community that needed the most help was the Provo School District.” — Brent Brown, owner of Brent Brown Toyota

Even the first Easter Basket Auction yielded better results than the $1,000 check Brown initially intended to write. In its first year, the Easter Basket Auction raised $27,000. Last year, the Provo School District raised $180,000 from the event in which 100 percent of the proceeds go to the after-school programs. Now in its 15th year, the Easter Basket Auction has raised more than $2 million.

“I chose a long time ago to support education,” Brown said. …”To me, the area in our community that needed the most help was the Provo School District.”

In order to support one school’s after-school programs, it costs $12,000 per year. According to Provo School District After School Coordinator Cathy Bledsoe, these after-school programs are used to help students falling behind as well as teaching enrichment classes such as ballroom dance, life skills, chess and musical instruments.

“These are programs that help kids that are maybe behind in their homework or need extra remedial instruction,” Bledsoe said.

The Easter Basket Auction has outgrown its original venue, the showroom at Brent Brown Toyota, and is now held at Riverside Country Club where they can accommodate the larger crowd.

One Easter basket donated by Provo City Power breaks the mold for Easter Baskets. Local businesses donate items for baskets sold in the silent and live auctions. (Photo courtesy Provo School District)

For the 2017 Easter Basket Auction on April 13, there is both a live and a silent auction. The baskets include items from local vendors including BYU football trip, BYU basketball camp, a stay at a vacation home in Hawaii, Donny and Marie tickets, Sierra West Jewelers jewelry and more. Silent auction items go for as low as $12 and as high as thousands of dollars.

“First and foremost, they should come to support education in our community,” Brown said. “Secondly, they should come to get a really good deal on some really good stuff.”

Besides the auction featuring hundreds of items, students provide the entertainment for the evening. Also, Provo High culinary students provide some of the food along with the Riverside Country Club.

The 2017 Easter Basket Auction is on Thursday, April 13 at 6:30 p.m. at the Riverside Country Club in Provo, Utah. It is free to attend.

If you would like to donate an item for an Easter basket or would like to donate to the after-school programs, email Cathy Bledsoe with the Provo School District at cathyb@provo.edu.

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