Dollars for Scholars Auction Raises Over $120,000 for Yelm Students


The 28th annual Yelm Dollars for Scholars auction raised over $120,000 at the Lake Lawrence Lodge on Saturday, March 11.

Prior to the auction, 220 tickets had already been sold for the event.

Yelm Community Schools Superintendent Brian Wharton said Dollars for Scholars steps up to help the seniors of Yelm High School each year in a way other communities may not be able to.

“As a school district, we’re all about kids using the time that they have, all 13 years in their education, to develop a plan,” Wharton said after the auction. “Finding the resources to succeed after high school is so strongly supported by Dollars for Scholars. It rallies kids to be more motivated because they know the community is behind them.”

Wharton said students oftentimes credit the cost to continue their education after high school as the largest barrier. He added students in Yelm Community Schools grow up knowing Dollars for Scholars will be able to provide a scholarship in some capacity, if they apply for one.

“It always amazes me that year after year, with all the people that are in and out of Yelm, that Dollars for Scholars can generate such an impactful event where they raise $120,000 in one night,” Wharton said. “It shows that this community steps up for these students like no other.”

Dan Huttmann, with Yelm Dollars for Scholars, said he enjoys being a part of the auction each year. Not only does the event benefit seniors at Yelm High School, but Huttmann said it also rallies residents together.

“We like bringing the community together and leaning on them to give these seniors an opportunity,” Huttmann said. “This is a bigger venue than we had last year. We were at the community center last year and we were just hoping to get more people involved this year.”

Danny Schorno served as the auctioneer, while Wharton was the master of ceremonies. Thurston County Commissioner Gary Edwards and former Yelm Mayor JW Foster served as spotters.

The auction pool at this year’s event featured an estimated $14,000 worth of items.

“The proceeds from this event will go to our senior applicants directly through the scholarships we provide at the end of the year,” Huttmann said. “We have 94 students that applied this year. We’ll put that into account before we decide on how much goes to each of the kids.”

Some of the items featured at the auction included old lockers from Yelm Middle School, 10 yards of crushed rock, “exclusive early access” to the Yelm High School plant sale and a Seahawks gift package.

One of the more unique auction items was titled “You Make the Call.” The winning bidder and up to three guests will spend an evening with Yelm’s football coach Jason Ronquillo, Athletic Director Rob Hill and Principal Curtis Cleveringa. The winning bidder will help design a play that will be used during a game in the 2023-24 season.

Steele Barrel Barbecue donated catering for up to 100 people. The winning bidder was able to select from pulled pork, chicken, or a combination of both.

Nick Parsons, with Prairie Elementary School, donated a Yelm Tornados football jersey signed by the 2022 3A state champions. The jersey was framed and included an engraved tag.

Stephen Nolan, a Yelm-area resident, said he has participated in the annual auction for 15 years.

“I think that the auction presents a great opportunity for the community to come out and support the kids,” Nolan said. “So many different students have benefitted from this auction over the years. It’s a great way for Yelm’s residents to donate money and provide college opportunities for these seniors.”

Nolan added he enjoyed the new location of the event at the Lake Lawrence Lodge.

Marky Liburdi, a Class of 2021 graduate from Yelm High School, spoke about how Dollars for Scholars assisted him with his carpenter’s apprenticeship at Mehrer Drywall Inc.

“Tools are super expensive, so Dollars for Scholars was a huge help in getting me started in my career,” Liburdi said.

Yelm Dollars for Scholars thanked all of the event’s sponsors who made the annual auction a success.