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Auction to raise money for Christian education





Last year's top money-raising item at the Auction for Christian Education in Hays has opened new doors for Thomas More Prep-Marian Junior-Senior High School.

One of the special items each year at the auction, commonly referred to as ACE, was for an elevator in the 83-year-old, four-story building. That item has become known as Item No. 60.

The elevator project is near completion, and with easier access to the spacious fourth floor -- formerly a residential living space for male students which now sits empty -- plans are in the making for renovating a portion of that area for offices.

ACE, in its 40th year, has raised $5.2 million for the school. This year's auction, whose theme is "There's No Place Like ACE," is set for Saturday night in Al Billinger Fieldhouse on the TMP campus.

Additional space for classrooms became necessary at the local Catholic school when it added seventh and eighth grades to its curriculum two years ago. Moving several offices from the second floor, as well as the third-floor library, to the fourth floor would open up space for additional classrooms.

For several years, Item No. 60 at ACE has been designated for a particular need for the school. Last year's auction brought $330,000 for the elevator project, topping out the record total amount at more than $630,000.

Pledges are being sought to reclaim a portion of the fourth floor of the main school building.

The Leo J. and Albina Dreiling Trust has agreed to match all donations toward the fund up to $100,000, after an initial amount of $100,000 has been raised. As of this week, nearly $40,000 already had been raised toward that magic $100,000 total.

Estimated cost for the fourth floor project, which includes construction, heating, air conditioning, windows and flooring, is approximately $500,000.

This year's ACE will feature the usual raffles for a vehicle donated by Auto World Used Cars, and cash prizes, and approximately 800 items for traditional and silent auctions.

New this year will be "Pennies for ACE." Several individuals and organizations are matching a penny for every dollar raised, not including Item No. 60. Those donors can either choose beforehand to match last year's $300,000 total (without Item No. 60) or this year's amount.

Wanda Billinger, TMP alumni director, and Mary Lang, alumni office manager, were working long into the night Wednesday preparing for the event.

Lang said they begin placing items and setting up tables and chairs for the meal from eight to nine days before ACE weekend and added it couldn't be done with a lot of volunteer help.

"There are over a hundred volunteers here just the day of the auction," she said.