Silent auction benefits Biloxi trip

Kiera Manion-Fischer

Mark Kuhn, fifth-year architect major, helps build one of the playhouses Habitat for Humanity constructed to raise money for the Biloxi trip. HEATHER STAWICKI | DAILY KENT STATER

Credit: Jason Hall

Two children’s playhouses.

A blimp ride.


These were some of the items sold at “An Irish Fling with a Cajun Kick,” Kent State University United for the Gulf Coast’s Project Playhouse Silent Auction held Saturday.

The event was organized to raise money for next week’s alternative Spring Break trip to Biloxi, Miss. More than 150 tickets were sold.

Matt Haramis, auction planning committee member and Center for Student Involvement service leader, said the committee gathered 140 individual items for the silent auction from individuals and businesses.

The items included gift certificates to local businesses, gift baskets, memorabilia, photographs of the Gulf Coast destruction and a framed Life Magazine from May 4, 1970.

Ceramics students donated bowls to the action as well. Before Hurricane Katrina, Biloxi had been a center of ceramic art, said Ann Gosky, associate director of the Center for Student Involvement.

She said the auction gave many students a chance to “connect service learning with academics.”

Kate Mileti, junior interior design major, said 29 interior design students submitted playhouse designs to the auction for a studio class project. Of the 29, two were built, due to time and money constraints.

Architecture students reworked the designs to make them easier to assemble and more affordable to build.

The two playhouses were sold in a verbal auction after the silent auction was concluded.

Janine Leisure, junior interior design major, created one of the winning designs, the “Imaginarium,” which sold for $500.

Leisure said she was inspired by the idea of an aquarium. Her playhouse was built on two levels with a fence at the bottom resembling seaweed. It had round bubble-shaped holes cut into several walls.

“I wanted to think of something different, something you don’t ordinarily see in a playhouse,” she said.

Charlene Zurfley, junior interior design major, created “Junkyard Playhouse,” the other winning design, which sold for $600.

Ralph Kletzien, member of the planning committee and retired director of development at the College of Business, said the committee’s total fundraising goal was $40,000, but Haramis said the auction’s final fundraising total could not yet be determined.

The fundraising is necessary to buy building supplies and to help students who are unable to come up with the $299 to pay for the trip, Kletzien said.

Megan Grote, planning committee member and senior public relations major, went on the two previous Biloxi trips and described them as eye-opening experiences.

“Kent State cannot rebuild the whole Gulf Coast,” Grote said, “but we can make a difference for that one person.”

Contact news correspondent Kiera Manion-Fischer at [email protected].