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Guild to hold chocolate gala, auctions


Chronicle Staff Writer

WILLIMANTIC — Supporting your local theater has never been easier.

The Windham Theatre Guild hopes to raise funds while continuing its tradition of providing entertainment and excitement to the community with its current online auction as well as its upcoming 17th annual Chocolate Gala and Auction event on Saturday, Oct. 21, at 7 p.m. at the Burton Leavitt Theatre.

“Our online auction is just like online shopping,” said Martha Funderburk, managing director and chairperson of the fundraising committee at the Windham Theatre Guild. “You just sign up with a username and password and bid on items.”

You will also receive email reminders if you are outbid, Funderburk said.

“We have a variety of items from businesses and individuals in the community,” Funderburk said. “We have items such as an autographed baseball and gift certificates for food, Block Island and massages.”

The Windham Theatre Guild has been hosting an online auction for the last few years, Funderburk said.

“We’ve gotten $400 to $600 in our past online auctions,” Funderburk said. “It’s really a way to reach people who can’t make it to the main event.”

According to Funderburk, fundraising is essential to the theater because ticket sales don’t cover the costs of rent, heating and lights.

“Shows pay for themselves at the theater and add some money toward rent, heating and lights, but it’s not enough,” Funderburk said.

To help with these bills, the theater hosts its main fundraising event, the chocolate gala, which has proven successful in previous years.

“This event is the biggest fundraising event of the year for us,” Funderburk said. “The first hour includes mingling while enjoying chocolate desserts, the chocolate fountain, a wine tasting and browsing the auction items.”

“We will have two different auctions,” Funderburk said, “There will be a live auction and a silent one.”

Windham Mayor Ernest Eldridge, who happens to be an auctioneer, will host the live auction during the event.

“The live auction with Ernie is fun to watch even if you are not participating because there are bidding wars and you never know what’s going to happen,” Funderburk said.

There will also be entertainment interspersed with the auctions.

“We have singers who will perform,” Funderburk said. “This year we are also having belly dancers.”

The event is also a great place to get experience bidding in an auction.

“We will provide instructions for anyone who hasn’t participated in auctions before,” Funderburk said.

“Ernie is also very good,” Funderburk said. “He recognizes when people haven’t bid in auctions before and helps them out.”

Funderburk said they are hoping to raise $6,000 between the online auction and main event.

“People really enjoy the food and wine and it’s just a lot of fun,” Funderburk said.

The online auction continues until Monday.

The theater is located at 779 Main St.

For more information, visit


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