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European Moms Auction off Experiences to Inspire Imagination

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A couple of foreign moms in Florence, Italy, are planning a school charity auction with a curious twist. Rather than putting objects under the hammer -- like books or toys -- they're auctioning experiences, like a Napoleonic treasure hunt or a home-cooked, cowboy theme dinner, organized by the parents themselves.

The renegade moms' goal is to have the imaginations and energies of families associated with a Catholic School in Florence run wild, while enhancing their children's education. The auction seeks to bring together the scholastic community: getting families to share ideas, hobbies and professional experiences to support educational projects in Chile and Colombia.

"With humility and a smile on our faces," Italo-American mom "A.M." says she and Polish-American "M.J." are encouraging a change in attitudes, through a definite win-win initiative. The catalog they've put together lists 65 lots to go under the hammer, with each starting at five euro. This low price gives parents the option either to hunt out a bargain or to bid as high as possible, thereby increasing the missionary donations.

Among the interesting lots:

  • Design classes with an artist who used to work for Disney Studios
  • Visit to a dam, led by a geologist-mommy (for a group of five kids)
  • Skype-conference with a CERN scientist in Geneva
  • Tango lessons for 10 couples
  • Napoleon-themed treasure hunt in Paolina Bonaparte's villa
  • A professional photo shoot
  • A month of Giocomusica, musical play experience, for ages 3-5
  • Visit to a newsroom to learn how a daily newspaper is put together
  • An English-speaking, home-cooked American dinner with a cowboy theme
  • A candlelit dinner for two at home prepared by a top catering company
  • A girls' create-your-own handbag class, using paper

M.J. and A.M. are thrilled with how successful their idea has been so far. They say the true value of what they're doing at the school is to have stimulated people's imaginations and generated ideas that can be further developed for future school outings, birthday parties or after-school activities throughout the year.

The mothers are pleased that students were stimulated to think about what they could offer, through what they know how to do or what they can share/teach other kids.

"The move from passive students to active mini-teachers or artisans was a real revelation for us", says A.M. "Plus, it pushed families to get to know each other and have fun together in a new way. It also helped everybody to think about how to contribute to the good of our community and to the growth and development of our children."

The two say they're overwhelmed by how contagious the positive energy was. Now, they're just hoping the funds raised will be just as overwhelming.

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