LESA Volunteer Spotlight

Auction Action with Deb Hofmann & Jackie Roedel

If you’ve ever stopped by our LESA office in the months and weeks leading up to our annual Cooking for Kids Tribute Dinner-Auction, you might have noticed two of our busy volunteers, Deb Hofmann and Jackie Roedel, putting together the 60-80 unique gift baskets that fill our Silent Auction tables at the event (or in the case of this year’s virtual “Cooking for Kids” – your computer screen!). Like all of our volunteers, Deb and Jackie are a vital part of LESA’s mission to serve our families, teachers and member schools. Read on to learn more about their contributions. 

What do you do at LESA?

Deb: We organize and procur items that come in for LESA’s Annual “Cooking for Kids” Dinner-Auction and also Brew in the Lou, to a lesser extent. We put them together artistically and then catalogue and keep track of what went over well the year before. And the day before the event, we help set everything up. All the little things that have to be done behind the scenes. 

Jackie: We get all the supplies and everything out, and then we decide what would go well with what in each basket. Then we build the basket, and then we complete the basket. The better the job we do, the more LESA can do for our students and schools. 

How long have you volunteered for LESA?

Deb: This is my third auction. I started volunteering after I retired from working in healthcare administration at the St. Louis College of Pharmacy, Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University. 

Jackie: I started in 2009 after I retired from working as a physical therapist at St. Anthony’s (now Mercy Hospital South) Acute Care division. However, when I was still working, I helped set up the tables when the dinner-auction was held at Royale Orleans. And then when I retired, I didn’t know how to do baskets, I’d never done one in my life! But my good friend Linda Lehr, another longtime LESA volunteer, recruited me. 

How many hours a week do you volunteer? 

Jackie: When we’re really going strong, five days a week, 9-3 pm, basically a full work week. 

Deb: We start working on the baskets the first week of January. And then after the event, we clean up and then we start again in August for Brew in the Lou.  

What’s the secret to a successful auction basket? 

Jackie: Teamwork – we decide on the items together, we put it together, we build it together. We each have our own niche. We bounce ideas off each other. And then I will usually do the shrink-wrapping and Deb bows them, she is so good at bows! She picks out the color and what kind. And so it works well that way. 

Why do you volunteer for LESA? 

Jackie: Oh, I enjoy it. My husband was born and raised Lutheran and he always says his daughters received a good Lutheran education (at Word of Life Lutheran School in south city and Lutheran South). I’m not actually Lutheran, but they’ve welcomed me and they appreciate us. There’s never a day that people don’t say thank you and they mean it. 

Deb: Well, Jackie actually asked me to help! But I’m also a product of Lutheran elementary and high schools – Lutheran South and Word of Life Lutheran when it was called Ascension Lutheran School, and my step mom taught in the Lutheran schools for 40 plus years. In fact, she taught Laura Montgomery (LESA’s Director of Educational Resources!) My husband went to Hope Lutheran and Lutheran South, and my kids went to Word of Life and Lutheran South.  

What’s your favorite part of what you do for LESA?

Jackie: I think shopping for items to add to the baskets. Everybody works so well together and it’s fun. And I have to say the best part of it is that we’re appreciated. 

Deb: I would say being able to have some creativity in how we display the items but the biggest thing is the people there. Sue (Nahmensen, LESA’s CEO) was the secretary at Word of Life Lutheran when my kids went there! We have a lot of fun. You don’t get a paycheck, but the benefits are way beyond that. And I feel fortunate that I can do it. 

What do you do when you’re not at LESA?

Jackie – I also volunteer for the American Czech Hall in south St. Louis, where I grew up. I’m the Animal Booth Lady – Deb helps me with that too! I also work the festival and help make all the pastries and dumplings for the festival, like kolache and all kinds of things. And then we make the dumplings for the Pork & Dumplings and the Duck & Dumplings. (You can taste Jackie’s cooking at this year’s Czech Festival, which has been rescheduled for Fall 2020, date to be determined.)

Deb: I like to work on home projects and I also have gotten into looking up my family tree. I’ve traced my family’s roots back to Germany, Scotland and the Alsace-Lorraine area of France. In terms of volunteering, I also co-chair of the Decorating Committee for our home church, Ascension Lutheran. We decorate the facility for Christmas and other holidays as well as for the Vacation Bible Study we hold every summer. I’m also co-chair the Fundraising Committee for Ascension’s Capital Campaign, which includes coming up with various projects and events to help raise funds for the school and church so we can continue to share Christ’s love now and in the years to come. I wanted my children to know that belonging to a church meant more than just sitting in the pew for an hour or so each week.  In addition to that, volunteering has blessed us with many great memories as well as good friends.

Thank you, Deb and Jackie, you are a blessing to LESA’s ministry and those we serve!

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