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WNY man putting his sports memorabilia collection up for auction to help 2 local organizations

Sammy Violante is putting around 100 items up for auction. The proceeds will benefit two organizations he volunteers with, MHA of WNY and Compass House.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — The pandemic continues to impact so many aspects of our day-to-day lives and Western New York service organizations haven't been immune to its effects.

After a tough year for fundraising, one local sports fan is stepping up to the plate to help out.

Sammy Violante is a long-time volunteer with Mental Health Advocates of Western New York and Compass House, a shelter and resource center for runaway and homeless youth.

After learning of funding challenges due to the pandemic, Violante wanted to do something — so he turned to his personal collection of sports memorabilia, with one-of-a-kind items from the 70s, 80s and 90s.

Now, he's putting around 100 pieces from his collection up for auction, with the proceeds benefitting Mental Health Advocates and Compass House.

Violante told 2 on Your Side, "I had to make a decision. Do I put the money back in my pocket or do I give it to organizations that are doing amazing work in this tremendous community of Western New York? And I decided to make this a win, win, win across the board."

He added, "With the pandemic and what's happened with COVID, we've had to now re-align our scorecard and our value system of what truly is most important, and what truly is most important is, 'How can I make an impact on people who are probably suffering more than I am?'"

Leaders with both organizations were thrilled when Violante approached them about his idea.

"I was shocked. I couldn't believe that he was willing to donate his personal collection," said Kelly Miskovski, the director of community outreach at Mental Health Advocates of WNY. "We're just so grateful for it."

"It should certainly help with the bad fundraising year we have had," said Lisa Freeman, the executive director of Compass House. 

Freeman explained, "It's absolutely important. A lot of kids that come to us have nothing but the clothes on their backs. So we really need money to help keep services for them."

The collection is made up of national and local pieces. Freeman said their goal is to have the online auction go live on November 2.

Click here to view the event page.

Violante told 2 on Your Side, "It doesn't get any better than to be able to help people. It's the greatest feeling you could possibly have to help other people and I'm very excited to be able to do this."