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Habitat for Humanity auction, fundraiser draws large crowd

By Richard Yeakley
Nov. 3, 2012 at 10 p.m.

Dozens of bidders attended the Habitat for Humanity Clean Sweep Auction on Saturday, putting down good money for unique items from Habitat for Humanity's ReStore on Tyler Street.

The auction was the first of what officials hope will be an annual occurrence, and Saturday's funds went to help pay for a new truck for the ReStore to pick up donations.

"We need to raise about $20,000 total. We are very careful with our donors' money, so we are going to make sure we make a good deal," said LaJuan Hollis, executive director for Longview's Habitat for Humanity.

Hollis invited local auction legend Walt Cade, of the A&E television show "Storage Wars: Texas" to run the benefit auction.

Cade lives in Longview near Hallsville and said he thought the event raised a good amount of money for the charity.

"This is home, and I am not going to turn down anything from home if I can help it. I am always interested in the charities," Cade said.

Habitat for Humanity exists to build simple, decent, affordable housing in partnership with people in need. The ReStore sells building materials, new, gently used and surplus items, furniture and home decor that have been donated to raise money for the building projects.

Longview's Habitat for Humanity was founded in 1985 and built its 80th home in October, Hollis said.

They hope to build five new homes in Longview in 2013, Hollis said.

Although many of the buyers were looking for a unique find, they also said it was the charity itself that inspired their bidding.

Janet Stanley bought a saw for her son, not because it was her plan, but because she appreciates how the nonprofit organization affects the lives of those it ministers too.

"Because it helps people; I have been helped before too," Stanley said.

Debbie Malone, who works at LeTourneau University, said her company supports Habitat for Humanity and that it is a life goal to help the organization build a home.

"I believe in what they do ... one of these days I would like to build a house with them," Malone said.

Malone made off with shelving units for a closet and a light fixture she was searching for, making her first auction a success.

Cade said he was impressed by the willingness of the buyers to spend and support the ministry.

"I need to see them make some money, it is helping them slim down, but hopefully it will be a regular thing for them," Cade said. "I think the buyers paid real well for what we had here. They were amazing."

The professional auctioneer, who stopped off at Maude Cobb Convention and Activity Center after the Clean Sweep Auction and before another benefit auction Saturday night, was a reason several bidders attended.

Steven Adams said he has seen almost every episode of Storage Wars and Storage Wars Texas, and was excited to see Cade in person.

Adams had Cade sign his auction catalog and a photo of Cade.

"He is as good in person as he is on the show," Adams said.

But Adams didn't find a treasure in the items being auctioned off.

The licensed electrician said he goes to countless auctions, but didn't find anything Saturday that caught his eye.

According to Hollis, some of the better items in the ReStore were up for bid including a 42 inch flat screen television.

"We went through our inventory and we picked out some unusual and unique items that people would like to have," Hollis said.

Hollis said she hopes the auction will create excitement to transition the event into a yearly feature on Habitat for Humanity's fundraising agenda.



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