Hundreds of supporters for the United Boys & Girls Clubs of Santa Barbara County stood tall last Saturday evening for the 29th Annual Stand Up for Kids Auction hosted by Fess Parker’s DoubleTree Resort.

The last rays of the day left the sky a luminous golden hue and a slight breeze ushered inland from the Pacific Ocean to greet a throng of guests who mingled and sipped cocktails while placing bids on an assemblage of silent auction items that lined the upstairs circular balcony.

Youth volunteers dressed in jeans and blue T-shirts with white letters proclaiming “Be Great” threaded through a jovial crowd and distributed magnets embellished in a colorful and painterly effect with children’s hand prints and the United Boys & Girls Clubs logo.

The youths’ playful persona was contagious among the adult guests and instilled a positive impact on what was destined to be a fun and inspiring evening.

Next, the crowd moved to the main floor Plaza Del Sol patio and was welcomed to the fundraiser by Master of Ceremonies Eloy Ortega, CEO of The Bank of Santa Barbara and treasurer for the United Boys & Girls Clubs.

“The United Boys & Girls Clubs of Santa Barbara County is 4,600 members strong with five clubs, in Carpinteria, Santa Barbara West, Goleta, Lompoc Valley and Camp Whittier,” Ortega said. “The mission is about giving to the children, especially those in need, and that’s why we are here tonight.”

Youths from the Carpinteria Clubhouse came to the stage and asked the audience to stand and join them in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, followed by a group invocation prayer led by Conrad Gonzales and a beautiful rendition of “America the Beautiful” by Rita Horton of Lompoc.

Later, Ortega presented Marshall Sherill with a special award for his dedication to the United Boys & Girls Clubs.

“Marshall’s one of the individuals who can do anything, from getting along with the kids or fixing a door handle to writing a check,” Ortega said. “We love him dearly, and tonight we want to honor him with the 2011 Lifetime Achievement Award.”

Barbara Sherrill stood and addressed the enthusiastic crowd with a few words of gratitude on behalf of her husband.

“I want to thank everyone for bestowing this award to Marshall, and I have to say I think it is well deserved,” she said. “Ever since Marshall was young, he has always been very aware of the gaps between the haves and have-nots, and I think that’s why he has always been generous, particularly with the United Boys & Girls Clubs.”

Guests offered enthusiastic applause while dining on delectable fare by DoubleTree Executive Chef Kirk De Long, which included a fabulous entrée of pheasant breast on a bed of sautéed arugula with goat cheese and risotto served with premium wines from The Brander Vineyard.

Angel Martinez, CEO of Deckers Outdoor Corp. and keynote speaker for the evening, credited organizations such as the Boys & Girls Clubs for his success.

“I lived in a very tough neighborhood in Bronx, N.Y., and I was fortunate as a child that people in my neighborhood cared enough and made sure that kids like me had a place to go,” Martinez said. “People like you donated time, energy and passion so kids would get the opportunities America offers.”

The United Boys & Girls Clubs of Santa Barbara County are open year-round and offer a range of activities and programs for youths ages 5 to 18 with educational programs structured to build character, instill life-enhancing values and develop creativity in health and life skills, sports, fitness, recreation and art programs.

After dinner, guests were treated to an entertaining live auction hosted by the dynamic team of dual auctioneers Bill Hoffer Jr. and Sr., whose witty enthusiasm worked the crowd into a bidding frenzy.

Items for bid included a cocktail party or barbecue for 25 at Lad Handelman’s Mesa estate overlooking Santa Barbara and pulled in more than $6,400 as a crowd favorite. There was also a Camp Whittier Retreat for 30 guests that caused a stir at $6,800, and a unique Air Combat USA fighter pilot for a day course that landed at $1,600. 

The evening was far from over as guests danced to the hip-shaking rhythm and tunes of Area 51.

Nick Pohl, 12, said he joined the United Boys & Girls Club last year because he didn’t have good grades, and since then his grades have improved.

“The tutors supported me, and I’ve made lots of friends in a really positive place,” Pohl said. “Every kid should go.”

Click here for more information about the United Boys & Girls Clubs.

The United Boys & Girls Clubs of Santa Barbara County offers thanks to all of the Stand Up for Kids Auction sponsors:

» Platinum sponsors: Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians, Deckers Outdoor Corp., Fess Parker’s DoubleTree Resort and the Wood-Claeyssens Foundation.

» Gold sponsors: ATK Space,, Network Hardware Resale and Precision Auto Body & Painting.

» Silver sponsors: Citrix Online, HUB International Insurance Services Inc., InTouch Health and MarBorg Industries.

» Bronze sponsors: Cox Communications, Milpas Motors, Montecito Bank & Trust, Sares-Regis, Santa Barbara Bank & Trust and the Volentine Family Foundation.

» In-kind donors: The Brander Vineyard, Carreta De Oro Tequila, Event Rents, PSAV Presentation Services and RockStar Limousine.

Noozhawk iSociety columnist Melissa Walker can be reached at Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkSociety, @NoozhawkNews, and @NoozhawkBiz. Become a fan of Noozhawk on Facebook.

Noozhawk iSociety columnist Melissa Walker can be reached at Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.