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Upcoming Camp Wildcat auction will raise money to get kids out into nature

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Courtesy of Catherine Patton

Camp Wildcat aims to mentor underprivileged children in the Tucson area. This weekend the Camp will be celebrating its 50th anniversary.

Camp Wildcat is hosting its annual auction on April 27 on the University of Arizona campus. The event will take place 6-9:30 p.m. in the Sonora Room of the Student Union Memorial Center.

Camp Wildcat is a student-run non-profit organization. The group works to service the community by organizing free camping trips and day activities for at-risk youth in Tucson. 

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Martha Kiela, a junior at UA and the alumni relations director for Camp Wildcat, says the goal of the organization is to help kids enhance their self-esteem and build interpersonal skills. Volunteers at the camp complete over 30,000 combined hours of community service helping Arizona youth yearly.

"We're dedicated to taking kids from Title I schools ... on camping trips to emphasize the attainability and importance of higher education and general success," Kiela said.

The annual auction raises money so the organization can continue providing free trips throughout the next year. All the proceeds from the auction go to Camp Wildcat.

Kiela has a big role in organizing the event, as she reaches out to and works with companies who donate the items used in the auction.

"All of our auction items have been donations from different companies around Tucson and Phoenix," Kiela said. "There a few [companies] that we ask year after year, and they're kind enough to keep donating."

Some of the auction items this year include a matching Kendra Scott necklace and earring set, tickets to the Tucson Symphony Orchestra, movie tickets and popcorn vouchers from the Loft Cinema and RoadHouse Cinema and hundreds of dollars worth of gift cards for companies around Tucson.

Daniela Ontiveros, administrative assistant and outreach coordinator for The Loft Cinema, said they have an online form organizations in the community can fill out and submit when looking for donations.

"Almost 100 percent of the time we give the donation out," Ontiveros said.

The Loft donated to Camp Wildcat last year as well, and Ontiveros said this year they donated four admission passes and four large popcorn vouchers.

Kiela also reached out to alumni of the organization to invite them to the auction. Additionally, Camp Wildcat reached out to students, family members and people in the Tucson community who love kids and support the organization's mission statement, according to Isabelle Wakeham, chairperson of the board of directors for Camp Wildcat.

Wakeham works closely with Kiela to put on the event and make sure it runs smoothly.

"The auction is definitely our biggest fundraising event of the year," Wakeham said. "All of the money that comes from this auction helps us be able to take kids on each camping trip."

Wakeham said they aren't trying to raise a specific amount of money, but they usually raise around $15,000. One camping trip can cost up to $2,500, which is why the auction is so important for the organization.

The event includes both a silent auction and a raffle. One of the bigger items donated is typically raffled off at the event, according to Wakeham. Kiela and Wakeham both said attendance for the auction is usually around 80 people. Attendees have to buy tickets for the event, with student tickets priced at $20 and adult tickets priced at $30.

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The money raised from the tickets is used to provide dinner to the attendees and covers the cost of renting the room where they hold the event, according to Kiela.

Wakeham said they don't always hold the event in the same place, but they "love to hold it in the Student Union so alumni, when they come back, can walk around campus and reminisce."

Camp Wildcat is made up of over 100 UA student volunteers and has done all fundraising, administration and camp direction themselves since the group's founding in 1965.


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