Zonta Holiday Auction rings in season a month earlier

The event will be Thursday at the Courtyard by Marriott Ballroom in downtown Springfield. It will include a full buffet dinner, cocktails and the chance to bid on numerous gift items in live and silent auctions, all supporting charitable causes.

“It’s been one of the most fun holiday events,” said Diane Van Auker, Zonta and publicity committee member. “It’s about enjoying dinner and drinks and early holiday shopping. We decided to move it up to the second week in November this year to see how it will be different.”

“We try to vary it to have something for everyone,” Van Auker said.

Later in the evening, a live auction will offer experience packages such as weekend getaways, dinners and trips to places like the Memorial Tournament golf event at Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin.

Clark County Sheriff Gene Kelly will be the auctioneer.

The evening will also recognize Zonta’s Woman of Distinction for 2015, former Springfield resident Bea Smith.

She helped others while working for OIC of Clark County and later became executive director of Jobs N’ More, a non-profit organization that provided Clark County residents with help finding and retaining employment. Smith now resides in the Chicago area.

“We’re glad to have her back in our community as she was a prominent presence in Clark County,” said Van Aucker. ”She empowered a lot of women to become employed and helped their self-esteem and encouragement.”

Previous Zonta Woman of Distinction honorees include Karen Duncan, Karen Rafinski and the late Merle Grace Kearns.

The Zonta Club of Springfield, a member of Zonta International, is about empowering women, according to Van Auker.

Some of the local organizations it supports include On the Rise Farm, Project Woman and Project Jericho. The club also sponsors a Clark State Community College scholarship for a non-traditional female student.

Tickets cost $40 through Monday. Thereafter tickets will cost $45 presale and at the door. Tickets can be reserved at http://zontaholidayauction.eventbrite.com.

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