Make ‘Em Wear It Auction
WCMA Bosses Sport Tacky Christmas Attire to Help Mittens for Detroit
Dec 21, 2016
Story by Ron Russell
Photos by Jessica Scott and Rodney Drewery
WARREN, Mich. – UAW Coordinator Delrico Loyd figured he might be a little embarrassed at the World Class Manufacturing Academy’s (WCMA) first annual holiday auction for charity.
But Loyd never dreamed he’d leave the event – calculated to make bosses look silly to benefit a worthwhile cause – wearing the most humiliating auction item of the day.
When the spirited bidding among staff members concluded, the usually dapper dresser was stuck with a cheesy, ill-fitting one-piece Santa’s elf costume that drew a winning bid of $400 for Mittens for Detroit.
“At the end of the day, the joke was on me,” Loyd said later, tongue in cheek and wearing a broad, forgiving smile. “But there’s nothing wrong with experiencing a little humiliation for a good cause – helping to make sure that children have warm mittens to wear this winter.”
Loyd was among leadership from the UAW-Chrysler WCMA who demonstrated a sense of humor and set their pride aside for the Dec. 15 Make ‘Em Wear It Holiday Auction. It was the highlight of Holiday Spirit Week at the academy, devoted to supporting Mittens for Detroit.
The non-profit group distributes new mittens and gloves to needy Detroit area kids through a network of schools and social service agencies.
WCMA and UAW-Chrysler National Training Center staff members rallied behind the collaborative effort by raising more than $1,500 and donating dozens of mittens.
The auction in the WCMA auditorium gave staffers a rare opportunity to poke fun at supervisors by bidding on holiday items, ranging from comical or offbeat to downright ugly. The highest bidder got to choose the boss who had to wear them for the day.
Loyd, whose responsibilities include the Employee Assistance Program, collected three of the items that generated $440 of the $1,030 raised by the auction.
“I thought I might end up wearing a pair of reindeer antlers or a festive necklace aglow with Christmas lights,” he said. “I had no idea I’d ultimately become the biggest loser – the one forced to wear to an unsightly holiday onesie.”
Perhaps fittingly, Loyd had an FCA US management counterpart to thank for his dubious distinction. NTC Associate Co-Director Lamar Harris, who also was in the running to don the elf outfit, aggressively bid up the price in a desperate bid to avoid embarrassment. He prevailed with the $400 bid.
Taking the high road, Harris deferred to the throng of onlookers in the auditorium to decide whether Lloyd or WCMA Operations Manager Mike Martin, another strong contender, would be Santa’s elf for the day. Loyd drew the loudest applause, and he suffered the consequences.
A majority of coworkers obviously felt the elf look was a perfect fit for the 6-foot, 2-inch Loyd.
“I was prepared to have a bidding war to avoid having to wear that ugly thing,” Harris said. “I already was wearing an elf’s hat with big ears and flashing lights, so I didn’t want to put on the whole Christmas ensemble.”
He said the important takeaway is that “everybody had fun with this and took advantage of an opportunity to keep UAW-FCA’s tradition of giving back to the community alive this
“Stepping up to provide kids in need with a pair of warm mittens is the least we can do.”
Other colorful auction items donated by employees included loud polyester Christmas ties, gaudy holiday glasses with flashing lights, tasteless LED wrist bands, a tacky mistletoe headband and far-out elf’s apron.
Spirit Week offered staff members and FCA US employees taking classes at the WCMA daily opportunities to get involved. They ranged from wearing unique holiday attire and ugly Christmas sweaters to a mannequin challenge and holiday bake sale competition.
UAW International Representative Stacie Steward, who served as co-auctioneer with Nick McCormick from the WCMA office, said the outpouring of support for the entire event far exceeded expectations.
“The message here is: don’t underestimate peoples’ willingness to do the right thing if given the opportunity to do so,” Steward said. “This event brought everybody together as a team, and it shows once again that it truly takes a village to raise a child. One person can’t do it alone.”
Even high school students in the academy’s School to Work Program were caught up in the contagious atmosphere conducive to caring
about others, including 17-year-old Caitlin Hilliard, a junior at Hazel Park High School. “The Spirit Week thing was pretty cool and I wanted to try it out,” she said. “It was for a really good cause.”
Caitlin joined the fundraising by making three dozen sugar cookies for the bake sale, and she was on hand to help out at the sale.
“I’m normally scared of being around people I don’t know,” she said, “but I’ve had a lot of people around me to help get over my stage fright, and make it easier to meet new people.
“I’m glad I had a chance to show some love for others by baking some cookies.”
Caitlin is one of 15 students from Hazel Park High and Hazel Park Alternative High School enrolled in the School to Work Program. They spend part of each school day at the WCMA, where they work on basic academic and life skills as part of a two-year curriculum designed to open doors to careers in the skilled trades or other aspects of manufacturing.
Miguel Foster, NTC Co-Director from the UAW, called Holiday Spirit Week “a super cool success.” He was especially impressed with involvement by some of the School to Work kids, because it shows the progress they’ve made in the program since school began this fall.
“It’s great to see the kids really get into something like helping Mittens for Detroit,” Foster said. “They’re more self-confident and have grown so much in other ways, such as how to think creatively to raise funds for a worthwhile cause.
“You could feel the spirit of the season spread throughout the WCMA this year – and these kids helped us remember that Christmas is a time for giving as much as receiving.”