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Ashley Caldwell displays the heart sign around the Rainier High School insignia on her fleece jacket in this May 2020 file photo.

The Rainier Education Foundation’s 21st annual auction will take place March 27, with funds going to benefit scholarships and post-high school education funding for the class of 2021. 

For the first time ever, the foundation’s silent and live auctions will be moving online, said Tracy Carli, a longtime volunteer and president of the organization. 

Despite the change in venue, the mission of the auction remains the same. 

“It’s not our usual fun community night, but we’re going to raise money for our kids,” Carli said.  “I have a very powerful team of engrained, embedded volunteers that are really the core of the (Rainier Education Foundation). We couldn’t have this auction or this organization without them.”

Despite there being no auction last year due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, which is entering its 12th month, Carli said the foundation was able to award about $30,000 in student scholarships and $17,000 in teacher grants with reserves the foundation had accumulated. 

The foundation was able to raise roughly $40,000 through the auction in each of the two years prior to COVID-19. 

“Which, for our little school, is quite a lot. We’re really proud of that,” Carli said. 

Rainier’s graduating class of 2021 is expected to be smaller this year with only 30 seniors, though they’re a resilient bunch transitioning back and forth between remote and in-person learning amid a pandemic. 

Carli said this year’s graduating class has adopted the mantra of “one step at a time, but always forward.” 

“It kind of summarizes what we’ve all been experiencing,” she said. 

The items being auctioned off this year look quite similar to those offered in years past, though with a few twists. The auctions will feature gift certificates from businesses such as Les Schwab, Varsity Pizza and Dr. Andrew Leavitt’s orthodontist practice. The foundation, which will continue to accept donated auction items until March 16, is also working on securing a Weyerhaeuser hunting permit. Professional auctioneer Larry Schorno will return this year to assist with the efforts. 

Carli said the foundation’s catalogue was due to open Wednesday, Feb. 24, to the public. The public can find it online at rainiereducationfoundation.com. 

Students graduating this year will also be eligible for a consecutive renewal scholarship over the next three years, which will help them accumulate funding after they graduate. 

“That’s an additional $1,500 if you can get all the renewals,” Carli said. “It truly is our mission to help students continue their education … We just have a passion and we love working with each other, and we like to meet new parents that are interested in learning what we do so that they can continue doing this as well … It’s also keeping the sliver of contact with the students open a bit.”

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