“If someone thinks they’re getting rid of something nobody is going to want, they’re wrong,” said Jennifer Breland, Dragon Con Charity Events coordinator. The annual main Dragon Con charity auction, Sunday from 10AM–2PM at Hyatt Hanover C–E, raised more than $10,700 with items auction ranging from pristine collector’s items to well-loved fan favorites.
Plenty of the items were high-end collectibles, including a limited-edition Count Dooku Lightsaber hilt (complete with Christopher Lee’s autograph, a photo of him doing the autograph, and custom packaging and display case, and of course the certificate of authenticity, number 876 out of 1,000). Bidding for the hilt started at $100 and topped out at $1,450 as the highest-selling item in the auction. Another hit with the crowd was an acoustic guitar signed by the cast and crew of Criminal Minds, which went for $1,000.
Other items just appealed to fans. For example, a set of eight 1970s Star Wars action figures, missing the original cards and packaging and residing in Ziploc bags, went for $80.
Breland and the Dragon Con office accept donations for the auctions year-round, and items come in from everywhere. Artists, showrunners, actors, guests, other collectors, and fans from all over make donations, ranging from one-of-a-kind art and custom pieces to things people just had lying around in closets. Some stars even deliver donations in person. This year, Chris Rankin, who played Percy Weasley in the Harry Potter series, brought a wand from the set.
This year’s charity for the entire Con is the Lymphoma Research Foundation–Georgia Market. This cause is close to the Con, which has recently lost two long-time staffers to the disease. More than half a million people are battling lymphoma in the United States, and it’s the most common blood cancer in adults and the third most common cancer in children. Dragon Con will match up to $50,000 of all attendee donations. In 2014, the Con raised $115,000 for the Atlanta Community Food Bank.
Additionally, there are several in-track auctions for specific items. The annual Stargate Multiverse Track Don S. Davis Memorial Charity auction (Sunday 4–6:30PM, Hyatt Hanover C–E), is one of the biggest and best-attended every year. The track even gets actor Paul McGillion, one of the stars of Stargate Atlantis, to serve as emcee. Saturday morning’s book and art auction (Hyatt Hanover C–E, 11:30AM–2PM) brought in around $1,200, and Saturday afternoon’s Cosplay Charity auction brought in another $1,100.
If you’re stocked up on collectables, tracks also put on charity events during the week. Saturday night, Aaron Douglas from Battlestar Galactica hosted a pub crawl, which raised $3,000 in raffle ticket sales alone. Each pub visited is also donating a percentage of sales from Saturday night. Friday night, the Monster Mash party raised more than $300 as well (Hyatt Regency VI–VII, 10PM). On Saturday, Stargate Pub Trivia raised more than $725 (Westin Savannah Ballroom, 8:30PM). At events all week, the track sells the annual Challenge Coins, too. This year’s theme is Monster Mash (hence the party), and coin designs include Dracula, Cthulhu, and other classic monsters.
Some tracks do more casual fundraising, too. This year, there’s a Harry Potter competition, where attendees donate per their Hogwarts House, and whichever house collects the most money wins the House Cup. The Alternate History track is hosting a Steampunk vs. Dieselpunk throwdown, and fans vote with their cash. Other events include the Board Game track’s Geek Trivia (Sunday 8PM in the Hilton Galleria) and X-Track karaoke (Sunday, 8:30PM, Hyatt Regency V).
“It keeps getting bigger, and better,” said Breland, “and god-willing, it won’t stop.” Breland said she considers her role as track coordinator “the best job I’ve never been paid for.” She reasons that the Con has more than 60,000 attendees, so if everyone just gave $1, they’d hit the matching-funds mark immediately.
Back at the auction, another lot, a Cookie Monster shirt and a signed photo of Oscar the Grouch’s girlfriend, Grundgetta (autographed by puppeteer Pam Arcciero), went to a fan for $40. One fan quipped that it was “brought to you by the letter C, for charity.”