Mountain Area residents will be sipping on complimentary champagne and nibbling on hors d'oeuvres before bidding on fully decorated Christmas trees at the 11th Annual Christmas Tree Auction Sunday, Dec. 2. Hosted by the Boys & Girls Club of Oakhurst, the gala event will begin at 3 p.m. with more than 200 items available for silent auction bidding as well as a raffle at the Bass Lake Event Center's Lake View Room in the Pines Village. Following the silent auction will be the live auction at 5:30 p.m.
Besides a variety of fully decorated trees and wreaths to bid on at the live auction, there will also be a 4 1/2 -5 foot carved bear by Jim Smith, who has been carving for 15 years. He learned from an Alaskan ice carver and hasn't stopped carving since, creating bears as large as 15 feet tall. The value of the bear is $2,000.
In the meantime, people can bid at the online auction through Friday, Nov. 30. Online only items include unique handbags, one year partner in tourism membership with the Yosemite Sierra Visitors Bureau, Pottery Barn gift card, couture jewelry and a Madera Wine Trail package for two.
"The online and silent auctions are a great way to check some Christmas shopping off your list while contributing to the Boys & Girls Club," said Rima Runtzel, president of the club. "The reach that this event has is incredible. Not only do we have 20 different organizations benefiting from the live auction this year, but each year some of the trees are gifted to other charities like Valley Children's Hospital and Manna House."
The event invites businesses or organizations throughout the Mountain Area to participate by decorating more than 30 Christmas trees and wreaths to sell at the live auction. The Boys & Girls Club will receive 25% of the winning bid with the remainder going back to the business or organization who donated the tree. "We love to be involved in this event each year," said Jill Althizer of Helping Hands Pregnancy and Parenting Center, a long time live auction partner. "It is always so fun to see all the trees, wreaths and the silent auction items. I enjoy the festive atmosphere, visiting with friends and the delicious food. I especially love how this event benefits the Boys & Girls Club and many other wonderful organizations that meet the needs of many in our mountain community. Attending this event is the perfect way to start off the holidays."
There are about 25 groups and organizations participating this year, including two new groups -- Helping One Woman (H.O.W.) and Cornerstone Counseling.
Donna Dozier, who helped start H.O.W., said they decided to participate since they are a new group that just got organized this year. H.O.W. will be decorating a "very different and sparkley" tree according to Dozier.
"We have no money to start with, so instead of trying to put on a different fund-raising event, we decided to put something towards the Boys & Girls Club and also have operating cost money for our non profit this year," Dozier said. "It's a great community event and everyone has fun while helping."
Greg Thomas, administrative director of Cornerstone, says they'll be decorating a music themed, four-foot table-top tree. Since Cornerstone is a non profit business, the event will give them an opportunity to raise money for both groups.
"I always love to get involved in things that include the Boys & Girls Club," Thomas said. "It's a nice theme and a good turnout of people involved in the community."
A few of the other groups include Children's Museum of the Sierra, Disney 49 Ears, Manna House, Mountain Area Artists, Mountain Bear Fan Club, Friends of Ahwahnee Hills Park, and the Positive Living Center.
The Mountain Area Artists is a group of friends who have been hand painting ornaments for a tree for 10 years. This year's volunteer artists included Joan Brumley, Janet Morita, Jim Tilkes, Loretta Seaman, Micki Hart, Al and Marla Moody and Bob McDonough. The artists have spent more than 100 hours painting ornaments.
The group will have 100 ornaments painted for their tree by Saturday. Proceeds from the tree will go to the Boys & Girls Club and Vision Academy.
Tickets for the auction, including hors d'oeuvres and champagne, cost $30 per person or four for $100.
Details: (559) 642-0313.