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Ely Young Life auction a major fundraiser

Ely Echo - Staff Photo -
The Ely Young Life Sweet Spring Online Auction funds activities and programming for kids in grades 6-12.

by AmberBeth VanNingen

Maybe you’ve always wanted to get in on that fresh walleye fish fry on the shores of Garden Lake hosted by retired teachers (and avid anglers) Larry Mischke and Tom Wetzel.

Or that beyond belief Guinness Chocolate Cake with Irish Cream from Sharon Svatos.

Maybe it’s the fun of sending an Ely-original card by local artists Sarah Guy-Levar or Kris Kidd.

Could it be you are in the market for something new, like a Smart Step Sondors eBike, a custom lake sweatshirt from Ely Mercantile, a Minnesota-Canadian wilderness hanging wall map from Fisher Maps, or even a personalized carved boulder from Rock Country Masonry?

Wait no longer, because spring is here! No matter the timing and kind of spring we get, for the past 17 of them, Ely Young Life has celebrated the season with a Sweet Spring Auction.

What started as a humble cake auction has grown into an annual event that accounts for nearly a quarter of the organization’s budget and, for the past 10 years, includes not only desserts, but outdoor gear, crafts, experiences, and gift certificates.

The auction used to be an in-person affair, but as with so many other aspects of life, the 2020 auction was moved online. It became Ely Young Life’s highest grossing auction to date. The success of the online platform has led to subsequent auctions being held online as well.

Although donations do come from big, outside businesses such as the Minnesota Science Museum and Costco, the vast majority come from Ely and the surrounding area.

It is our neighbors and friends who are donating their time, talents, and items to support Ely youth. Donations to the auction raise support so Young Life can reach kids where they are: basketball games, band concerts, coffee shops, and just hanging out.

The auction also provides scholarships for students to go to camp and helps defray the cost of transportation. Over 50 kids in grades 6-12 are signed up to go to camp this year.

Mark your calendars for this year’s Sweet Spring Auction, April 23-30. Bidding opens Sunday, April 23 at 6 p.m. On Sunday, April 30 bidding will close for specific items every 30 minutes, starting at 2:30 p.m. and ending at 6 p.m. Notice when your items close so you don’t get outbid at the last minute.

Items can be picked up May 1 and 2 at the Young Life office and most items are available for shipping outside of Ely (certificates are mailed free of charge). This year’s auction features over 200 items.

Familiar favorites include classic desserts like pavlova and cheesecake and gift cards for DQ and Zup’s, while items like an electric bike, s’mores cupcakes (from E’s Taste of Bliss), and Dutchman’s Tree Service might become new favorites.

More information and access to the auction items for bidding are found at

Young Life is an international, inter-denominational youth organization that strives to go where kids are at, build bridges of authentic friendship, earn the right to be heard, and introduce them to Jesus Christ and help them grow in their faith. All kids, regardless of their background or identity, are welcomed.

Locally, Ely Young Life has been going for 25 years.

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