By Jessica Mathews /

An auction goes live next week that will benefit a local non-profit that provides dental care to those in need.

The VINA Community Dental Center of Livingston County is a non-profit outreach facility that provides affordable dental care and education to more than 1,500 patients in the county with limited finances.

“March On To Spring With VINA” is a virtual auction event that will open on Friday, March 18th at 8am and close March 27th at 8pm.

VINA Executive Director Jim Gilmore says they usually hold a fancy spring gala every year to celebrate the end of winter but the pandemic put the event on hold. Due to the amount of time and planning that goes into the gala and COVID uncertainties in January, he said it was decided to hold a virtual auction so off they go again into the land of virtual one more time to help support the Center.

Gilmore says the spring gala is one of their three major fundraisers and they’re looking forward to it. He told WHMI the clinic had to close for about six months in 2020 and only did emergencies but then were back in 2021 and had almost 1500 appointments. Gilmore noted that more than 50% of their low-income patients are seniors and that number continues to grow.

He said VINA also added two new programs for veterans in 2021. One is for low-income veterans in Livingston County and another is in conjunction with the University of Michigan’s School of Dentistry in which they take care of veterans in a seven-county area. Gilmore said the Victors for Veterans program happens every other Friday and in any given quarter; they have 20 to 30 veterans they’re treating. He commented that there are some pretty dire cases and they take care of them from beginning to end at no cost to the veteran adding “it’s pretty busy but it’s a great busy”.

As for the auction, Gilmore says it features a nice variety of items but nothing that will “break the bank”.

The auction features sports memorabilia, jewelry, popular themed baskets and golf packages at various courses. There are also some unique experiences bid on that include breakfast and a ride to school with Livingston County Sheriff Mike Murphy; a ride-along with a sheriff’s deputy; and a fire truck ride and tour courtesy of the Brighton Area Fire Department. Other items include hotel stays, a six-course gourmet dinner for eight, and tickets to shows. There’s also an opportunity to just donate directly to VINA.

Sponsorships are available, in addition to a $100 "Donate Your Dinner to VINA" sponsorship to donate the typical cost of an in-person Spring Gala ticket.

A link to register to bid, buy sponsorships and preview auction items is provided.