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1110 College NE
Grand Rapids, MI 49503

A Rookie's Guide to the Auction for the Love of Learning


A Rookie's Guide to the Auction for the Love of Learning

Leigh Ebrom

Stepping Stones Montessori’s Auction for the Love of Learning is one of the school’s most important fundraisers. The Auction’s proceeds go directly towards operating costs—such as teacher salaries, classroom materials, and staff training. But just as importantly, it’s a lot of fun! If you’re new to the school (or haven’t attended an SSMS Auction), here are some things you need to know.

The Auction for the Love of Learning is scheduled for November 12, 2016, from 6:00 PM to 10:00 PM. Tickets are available online or at the school.

The Basics

Why Do We Have an Auction?

Believe it or not, tuition alone does not cover the cost of a Stepping Stones Montessori education. We raise additional funds for our budget through the Auction. We also have an annual fund campaign in the spring, and alumni families continue to remember us in their annual giving. But our school's budget depends on the money raised at auction. Rather than promote several wrapping paper sales, magazine drives, or fundraising races, we prefer to get together as a community to have fun at a single fundraiser.

Are Kids Invited?

The Auction is an adults-only event. Stepping Stones Montessori loves children. Our kids are fantastic. But every parent needs a night out. Auction is a great excuse to get away, meet some equally cool parents, and support your children’s education.

When Should I Get There?

The Auction begins at 6:00 PM. While you do not have to show up at 6:00 sharp, it’s in your best interest to get there earlier rather than later. The evening begins with the silent auction—and tables will begin closing by 7:15 PM. Additionally, some of the sign-up events fill up quickly. If you show up really late, you’ll miss the opportunity to bid or sign up for these items.

The live auction will begin at approximately 8:00 PM. However, you do not have to stay for the entire event. Feel free to show up (and leave) whenever you want.

What is the Dress Code?

Do you think we're going to tell you what to wear? This is not a black tie event and you’ll see guests in everything from suits to jeans. We welcome everyone!

Where is the Auction Located?

Did you know that the Dominican Center at Marywood was Stepping Stones’ original home? The Dominican Center is located at 2025 Fulton Street in Grand Rapids. Parking is located off Lakeside Drive.

Do I Get an Assigned Seat?

We don’t have assigned seats in our classrooms…  Why would we have them at Auction? Feel free to mingle with other parents, staff members, and alumni. This year, for the live event, there will be a few tables available to reserve when you check in. The cost to reserve a table is $50, and each table seats eight.

Can I Get an Uber?

Absolutely. If you have a little too much fun, we encourage you to call a taxi or request an Uber. If necessary, we’ll bring your auction items to the school for pickup on Monday.

Can I Buy a Ticket at the Door?

Yes. If you decide at the last minute to attend, you may pay for tickets at the door. However, our Auction Committee prefers that you pre-order tickets so it can order enough food and drink.

Is Dinner Included?

There will be hors d’oeuvres to nibble on, but dinner is not offered.

You Mentioned Getting an Uber. Is There a Bar?

Absolutely. There will be a cash bar with beer and wine. This year, Brewery Vivant has generously donated beer for the Auction. 100% of the proceeds from beer sales will go to Stepping Stones!

Drinks are obtained by buying drink tickets. (You can use a credit card to purchase drink tickets, but cash is preferred.)

What’s Up for Bid?

Every year, there are amazing items at the Auction. Our staff, parents, and alumni donate really cool stuff and experiences. For many, the holiday season is fast approaching. There has to be someone on your list who would love:

  • Stevie Nicks tickets
  • NASCAR memorabilia
  • one week at a cottage on Lake Michigan
  • a Detroit Lions basket—including tickets to the 11/20 game
  • homemade jam (student-made)
  •  a chef’s dinner at Reserve with wine pairings
  •  music lessons

You will also have the opportunity to bid on classroom art projects. These aren’t your standard macaroni-and-glitter pieces. They’re thoughtful (and sentimental) works that your kids helped make. In the past, classroom projects have included painted canvases, elaborate string art, and a student-built "free library."

Last, there will be opportunities to buy classroom memorabilia. This year, you will have the chance to purchase photo books of your child and his or her classroom friends. (The photo books are a sign-up item.)

Check out the Auction Catalog for more information.


We don’t expect everyone to spend a lot of money at the Auction. Our catalog includes a wide range of price points: items range in cost from $15 to thousands of dollars. While this is a charity event, it is also a night of community building. Feel free to show up, have a drink, and browse.

Are the Sign-Up Events Just for Veteran Parents?

Every year, the school offers a series of sign-up events. For these events, you simply sign up and pay the stated price. Most of the events have limits on how many people can be included, so it pays to arrive early. There’s an Amazing Race–style road rally. The crêpe dinner always sells out. The Convivium night is legendary. It can be intimidating to sign up for a night out with strangers, but don't be shy! Our community is really friendly (and fun). Let’s be honest—you want to hang out with this crew.


While we do not offer online bidding, consider donating or buying a 50/50 ticket! Last year’s 50/50 winner received over $4,000—and you do not need to attend the Auction to participate in the raffle. If you're interested in buying 50/50 tickets, contact us.

How Do I Get Tickets?

Tickets to the Auction can be purchased at Stepping Stones or online. We're looking forward to seeing you there!