Do you like feel-good stories? The ones that make your heart hurt, but in a good way? Maybe they make your eyes a bit watery and the corners of your lips go up, just a smidge?
I’ve got a story for you.
Tonight I worked at a small auction. The online silent auction ideas crowd was around 80 guests, and the organization had 12 hand-crafted art items for sale. There was no silent auction or raffles. There was no sit-down dinner. My crew stayed at home, and I worked alone.
I arrived with my bag, took a few photos of the space, and then started to admire the high-end items they had for sale. When guests arrived, I mingled.
The advantage of small auctions is that I have more time to visit with the guests. REALLY visit. I’m not talking about chit-chat regarding the auction items, but really having the time to talk with folks. It’s about getting to know the people, as people.
At this event, I mingled right up to the point when I took the microphone, and I started mingling again as soon as I left the stage. It was after the auction when I was relayed this heart-warming story which had transpired while I was on stage. (And I didn’t even know it was happening.)
A particular gentleman – I’ll call him Mr. X – was standing in the back of the auction space. As bidding progressed on some earrings, the competition narrowed to one man and one woman. The price rose; the woman backed out. She clearly wanted the jewelry, but couldn’t bring herself to bid beyond a particular price.
As I was ready to sell them to the man, Mr. X stepped up to the side of the woman and bid. Then bid again. And again. And again. And … SOLD! … to Mr. X.
Later, a photo-realistic oil painting of water by artist John Harris came up for sale. Mr. X became an active bidder. The piece was popular, with many bidders jumping in to play. The bidders narrowed to two, and Mr. X emerged victorious.
When Mr. X paid for the merchandise (which was in the four figures) and the volunteer handed him the earrings, he pointed in the direction of the woman he had stood beside during the auction. “You can give those earrings to her,” he said. When presented with the gifted earrings, the woman was stunned!
Turns out the painting was also a gift, for a friend’s father who was dying and always loved the water.
One of the auction attendees knew this man personally. She said this gentleman makes it his life’s mission to give 50% of his earnings to charity.
By “charity” I don’t mean only government-registered, tax deductible, 501(c)(3) charities, but any charity. Down-on-their-luck folks… sick friends… the poor … the tired … the mangy dog …. anyone Mr. X perceives as needing a friend. His generosity reached national attention over 10 years ago when the media heard his story and he was featured on a 60 Minutes segment.
To honor his decision to donate half of his income, he lives a modest life. He supplements his full-time job by maintaining a second job editing textbooks. He doesn’t look for the publicity, but the media tend to find uncommon stories like his.
There is no moral here. I’ve no auction tips. Just a touching story about human compassion and love.