A volunteer helper is shown in this scene from our 2014 CSIA auction in Columbus, Ohio.

A volunteer helper is shown in this scene from our 2014 CSIA auction in Columbus, Ohio.

The CSIA Benefit Auction committee is looking for volunteers to help serve as “roadies and runners” at the National Chimney Sweep [NCSG] Convention in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. This year’s auction [click here for more information] is Friday, Feb. 20.

We’ll need help to pick up donations from our generous vendors and to move the items into the auction area located (which is next to the trade show site.) On the night of the auction, we will need runners to walk the aisles showing items up for bid and to bring these items to the winning bidders.

Additionally, we are in need of someone to record the successful bids while seated near our auctioneer, Randy Atkinson.

If you can offer some of your time, the reward is good karma and the thanks of your compatriots. Contact auction coordinator Judd Berg at scruddly@hotmail.com or Debbie Cornelius at dcornelius@ncsg.org.

The annual CSIA auction brings all of our sweeps, families and supporters together in one room to turn donated goods — including one-of-a-kind handmade items — into a crucial and critical revenue stream for CSIA operations.

This year’s auction is themed “Pirates.”

We actually have two auctions during the NCSG convention – one silent, one live.

The silent auction is a special benefit auction where proceeds raised go to pay for expenses related to Sweeps Week, a supercharged 5-day extravaganza held the second week of June. Sweeps gather at the Tech Center in Plainfield, Indiana to help out with any projects that need doing.

As for the live auction, Judd Berg of Judd Berg & Sons Chimney Sweeps in North Eastham, Mass., answered a few questions about its function and purpose.


A scene from the 2014 auction. CSIA Past President John Pilger (left), auction coordinator Judd Berg, auctioneer Randy Atkinson, and CSIA President Mark A. Stoner.


Q: Why is the auction so important to CSIA?

A: CSIA has very limited revenue avenues but dreams of good things to do.  CSIA Benefit Auction proceeds help turn these dreams into reality.

Q: What’s our usual attendance rate? 

A: We usually set up seating for approximately 250, but quite a few bidders stand around also. Some sweeps bring their families for a night of fun. Often times our vendors attend and actively bid. Not every auction item is work related.

Q: What type of items are available to bid on?

A: As you might guess, industry-related items account for the majority of items up for bid, goods that are purchased, then used by sweeps in the field. Things like liners, caps, all-fuel systems, brushes, water-repellent items, tools, even sweep vacuums, wood stoves and fireplace systems. Chimney sweep memorabilia ranging from prints to figurines to t-shirts. Gorgeously handmade chimney sweep dolls. Chimney sweep beer!!! You can find things to bring home for your significant other, or your kids, that aren’t even industry related. Our international sweep guests generously provide sweep clothing, artwork, and beverages associated with their home countries and guilds.

But things occasionally go outside the box.  We’ve had one of our sweeps offer to cut off her floor-length hair if a certain amount of money was bid-pledged.  When that amount was reached matching bids were taken for her to not be shorn. In the end, not a lock of hair was disturbed and CSIA raised $15,000. On another occasion five intrepid sweeps volunteered to sit for 30 minutes by the outside pool in their bathing suits immediately after the auction if $6,000 were pledge-bid.

This might not seem like such a big deal until you remember that it was the middle of winter and there was about four feet of snow surrounding the pool. Thus began the legend of the “Hershey Five.”

Q: Other thoughts on the auction?

A: I want to acknowledge the generosity of not only every vendor and sweep for their items, but also the many volunteers who give of their time to act as “roadies” and “runners” throughout the day. This event would be impossible without them. And to our auctioneer extraordinaire and former sweep Randy Atkinson, who ensures both a fun and a profitable night of bidding. Lastly I’d like to thank Debbie Cornelius for everything she does from contacting vendors, coordinating the volunteers and to making sure everything is in place for a great night.

BONUS: We asked Judd before the 2014 CSIA if he expected anything memorable from this year’s auction. Here’s what he told us, via our Soundcloud channel.