Habitat sailboat

Habitat's executive director Amie Fraley with ReStore senior manager Dondi Jones with the 26-foot MacGregor sailboat that is being auctioned this week.

Ted Fitzgerald/The Pilot

In 15 years working with Habitat for Humanity of the Sandhills, Dondi Jones has seen a lot of interesting donations. This week he landed the biggest one yet.

“A gentleman stopped by and said he wanted to donate a sailboat. He is a truck driver and told me he didn’t have his ‘sea legs’ anymore,” Jones said. “Rather than have it sit, he brought it to us.”

The 2005 26-foot MacGregor sailboat with its six-person cabin and motor is being auctioned online, as-is. The starting bid is set at $10,000 and there is a Buy Now option for $20,000. The auction ends Monday, Feb. 15.

Amie Fraley, Habitat’s executive director, said the online auction uses the same mechanism the organization has fundraised with during their annual Gala event.

“It gives us a bigger audience. We decided we will try more auctions online for specialty items. Sometimes we get some really unusual things,” Fraley said. “This is our first test of that and we thought it was a good one for that.”

Interested bidders can keep tabs on the sailboat and future unusual auction items by following Habitat for the Humanity’s social media pages on Facebook and Instagram, and online at restoreauction.org.

Jones, who oversees the ReStore location in Aberdeen and the organization’s brand new shop on Fayetteville Road in Raeford, said the sailboat is definitely the biggest donation he’s handled in terms of size and value.

“Very recently we had an eight- or nine-foot sailboat. We’ve also had a bass boat come in and I can’t even tell you the number of cars. Once we had a 1982 Alfa Romeo donated,” Jones said.

State laws limit the number of vehicles that can be sold in a given year unless the seller has a dealer license. That has previously limited Habitat’s ability to accept donations of vehicles. Fraley said they’ve seen an uptick in vehicle donation interests last year, which prompted her to reach out to Aaron Cooper of Cooper Ford in Carthage and Cooper Auto Choice in Southern Pines.

“Aaron agreed to assist us with any donations, by purchasing the vehicle so it can be resold. It’s a great way that people can donate to us. It’s also something we could never advertise before,” she said, noting that only donated vehicles in good running condition can be accepted.

Looking ahead, Fraley said Habitat’s construction projects are on target. In March, they expect to break ground on the new Apostles’ Build home site in Robbins. There are still a few spots open for more local churches to participate. Other projects including the Business Build in West Southern Pines are also progressing on schedule.

“Wee haven’t skipped a beat. We are blessed to have a hardworking staff and that has helped make up for us not being able to have as many volunteers on a build site as we normally do,” Fraley said.

Last January, the Sandhills office merged with Hoke Habitat, which was an all-volunteer affiliate of the faith-based nonprofit. Fraley said they are providing administrative assistance primarily so their volunteers in Raeford can focus on “doing the fun stuff.”

Work is also ongoing in Richmond County where Habitat oversees an extensive repair work ministry. These projects often entail building handicap ramps or replacing roofs for low-income homeowners to ensure they have a safe and affordable place to live.

Habitat’s biggest annual fundraiser is the annual Gala which will be held April 17 at Pinehurst Country Club. This year’s event is being planned with both in-person and to-go dining options, as well as online auctions. Sponsorship opportunities are available and tickets are on sale now at www.sandhillshabitat.org

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