Blooming Bids helps kids grow on Martha’s Vineyard

After being introduced by Sue Canham, her Big, Taylor Higgins said Sue had "changed my life for the best," at the event in 2010. — File photo by Susan Safford

The Blooming Bids for Kids benefit for Big Brothers, Big Sisters of Martha’s Vineyard (BBBS of M.V.) takes place tomorrow, Friday, June 22, from 6 to 8 pm. This year the event is at Featherstone Center of the Arts on Barnes Road in Oak Bluffs.

The marquee items offered in the auction include a three-hour art lesson with Margot Datz that includes all paint supplies; a garden planter designed and painted by Allen Whiting; a framed print by Ray Ellis called “The Potting Shed;” a 25-person appetizer party offered by the Martha’s Vineyard Chowder Company; and tickets to an August Red Sox game that include dinner and hotel accommodations.

More than 50 items are available in the silent auction, and all items relate to the theme of a garden party. There are landscaping donations, pastoral artwork of all sorts, potters, plants, even a hammock.

There will be “hearty” hors d’oeuvres, beer, and wine. The live auction, featuring the ever-entertaining Gerry Yukevich, aims to finish in 20 to 25 minutes, letting the entire event clock in at around two hours. The event lets patrons enjoy the auction and the festivities all while benefitting BBBS of M.V.

“Big Brothers Big Sisters is a national organization that has a gold medal standard for creating mentorships between adults and young people,” said Connie Alexander, co-chairman of the advisory board. “It’s been on the Island for close to 30 years and has served hundreds of youngsters.”

BBBS matches “Littles,” generally between ages 7 and 12, with “Bigs,” community members who range from recent high school graduates on up to retirees.

“I’ve never met a ‘Big’ who found it to be a bad experience,” Ms. Alexander said. “They always say that they got more out of it than they imagined.”

As for the “Littles,” relationships with “Bigs” can be transformative. “I see so many kids and the tremendous benefits they get — the companionship, a mentor — it just broadens their horizons with so many different opportunities,” Ms. Alexander said.

The money raised at the auction goes directly to BBBS events here on Martha’s Vineyard. It supports activities for mentor pairs such as baseball games, barbecues, holiday parties, and going out to the movies. It also supports the clerical side of BBBS, including the matchmaking and recruitment of “Bigs.”

“It surprises me how much care and depth goes into finding the right match — a lot of background goes into it,” Ms. Alexander said, adding with a laugh, “It would make no sense to put me with someone who loves fishing.”

She called The Blooming Bids for Kids, “a beautiful celebration of our program. It’s worth every second of it to come.”

Tickets, which cost $50, are available at the event or by calling Connie Alexander at 508-693-0101.