Tom Feeney anchor photo

Downtown Association of South Haven member Tom Feeney shows a pair of wooden anchors that have been created for the organization’s second annual Scavenger Hunt / Silent Auction. Businesses throughout town are donating $25 each to decorate and display an anchor in their business. Shoppers will then look for clues on labels attached to the anchors. If they discover all the clues they will be eligible for prizes. In the fall, the decorated anchors will be sold in a silent auction with proceeds given to South Haven area non-profits.

Despite the first year of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, downtown South Haven merchants put together a rather unusual fundraiser that raised $3,500 for We Care INC human service ministry.

Buoyed by the success of the nautical-themed Scavenger Hunt/Silent Auction, the businesses are getting ready to launch a second one this year with the intention of raising money for five non-profits.

The fundraiser works in the following way: Merchants throughout town donate $25 to the Downtown Association of South Haven. In return they receive a wooden, nautical-themed item to be painted by an artist or crafter. Last year, wooden canoe paddles were chosen. This year, DASH members picked wooden anchors.

After the anchors are painted, merchants will display them throughout the summer in their stores. Customers who solve the clues labeled on each of the anchors will be eligible to receive a variety of gifts from downtown businesses throughout the summer months.

“That’s the marketing part of it,” Harbor Light Brewing owner and DASH member Tom Feeney said. “The anchors are displayed throughout the city and surrounding area to promote visitors to participate in a scavenger hunt in collaboration with the South Haven Visitors Bureau.”

However, the next part of the event is equally important – the silent auction whose proceeds benefit non-profits.

“The anchors will be on display throughout September,” Feeney said. “Then they’ll be displayed at Harbor Light Brewery for people to view and then place bids as part of a silent auction that will conclude Halloween.

So far, 52 businesses have agreed to obtain and decorate a wooden anchor for this year Savenger Hunt/Auction, all of which were fabricated through the help of Lake Michigan College’s Fab Lab in Benton Harbor.

“They were able to cut the anchor shapes for us,” Feeney said. “Along with a few volunteers we were able to cut the anchors and radius the edges, preparing them for decorating.”

Feeney said he enjoyed seeing how artists chose to decorate the canoe paddles for last year’s auction and looks forward to seeing this year’s work. But the highlight for him and Roxanne Leder, president of DASH, is being able to help non-profits.

This year’s auction recipients were chosen earlier this month following a DASH meeting in which representatives from five non-profits – We Care INC, Youth Development Company, HOPE Parent Resources, Michigan Maritime Museum and Al-Van Humane Society – discussed their organizations’ needs.

After the presentations, DASH members decided all of the groups were worthy of receiving funds. We Care will receive the most – 30 percent of the funds; followed by YDC and HOPE Parent Resources with 25 percent each; and the Maritime Museum and Al-Van Humane Society, each receiving 10 percent.

“All the nonprofits had compelling evidence of need and did wonderful presentations. What an education we had,” Leder said. “I think We Care summed it up best – their needs have tripled in the time of COVID, so the DASH majority decided the money should go to people needs.”