By ELIZABETH MACAULEY
Chronicle Staff Writer
WILLIMANTIC â€” 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.
â€śOur online auction is just like online shopping,â€ť said Martha Funderburk, managing director and chairperson of the fundraising committee at the Windham Theatre Guild. â€śYou just sign up with a username and password and bid on items.â€ť
You will also receive email reminders if you are outbid, Funderburk said.
â€śWe have a variety of items from businesses and individuals in the community,â€ť Funderburk said. â€śWe have items such as an autographed baseball and gift certificates for food, Block Island and massages.â€ť
The Windham Theatre Guild has been hosting an online auction for the last few years, Funderburk said.
â€śWeâ€™ve gotten $400 to $600 in our past online auctions,â€ť Funderburk said. â€śItâ€™s really a way to reach people who canâ€™t make it to the main event.â€ť
According to Funderburk, fundraising is essential to the theater because ticket sales donâ€™t cover the costs of rent, heating and lights.
â€śShows pay for themselves at the theater and add some money toward rent, heating and lights, but itâ€™s not enough,â€ť Funderburk said.
To help with these bills, the theater hosts its main fundraising event, the chocolate gala, which has proven successful in previous years.
â€śThis event is the biggest fundraising event of the year for us,â€ť Funderburk said. â€śThe first hour includes mingling while enjoying chocolate desserts, the chocolate fountain, a wine tasting and browsing the auction items.â€ť
â€śWe will have two different auctions,â€ť Funderburk said, â€śThere will be a live auction and a silent one.â€ť
Windham Mayor Ernest Eldridge, who happens to be an auctioneer, will host the live auction during the event.
â€śThe live auction with Ernie is fun to watch even if you are not participating because there are bidding wars and you never know whatâ€™s going to happen,â€ť Funderburk said.
There will also be entertainment interspersed with the auctions.
â€śWe have singers who will perform,â€ť Funderburk said. â€śThis year we are also having belly dancers.â€ť
The event is also a great place to get experience bidding in an auction.
â€śWe will provide instructions for anyone who hasnâ€™t participated in auctions before,â€ť Funderburk said.
â€śErnie is also very good,â€ť Funderburk said. â€śHe recognizes when people havenâ€™t bid in auctions before and helps them out.â€ť
Funderburk said they are hoping to raise $6,000 between the online auction and main event.
â€śPeople really enjoy the food and wine and itâ€™s just a lot of fun,â€ť Funderburk said.
The online auction continues until Monday.
The theater is located at 779 Main St.
For more information, visit www.windhamtheatreguild.org.