The frosty weather and winter icy road conditions contributed to attendance being down by at least half of what it was last year at this year's Christmas Tree Auction to benefit the Boys and Girls Club of Oakhurst and other area charities. Despite the lower attendance, $20,400, after expenses, was raised at the 12th annual event held at the Bass Lake Event Center last Sunday, according to Donna Smith, co-chair of the event.
Fifteen full-size trees, five tabletop trees, and seven wreaths were auctioned off for a total of $12,500 during the live auction amidst some friendly, yet competitive bidding. Additional funds were raised from a silent auction ($3,600), an online auction ($2,300), and from ticket sales, a raffle, and sponsorships (8,000).
The Boys & Girls Club netted $12,000 after expenses and other individual charities received $8,400, according to event treasurer Shawna Petrushkin.
The top money raiser during the live auction, a carved bear donated by Jim Smith, went to Steve and Cindy Welch of Bass Lake Realty for $1,300. Also among the top three live auction items were the Women's Council of Realtors tree which was auctioned to Colette Goga, owner of Oakhurst Feed and Pet Supply, and the Boys & Girls Club tree which went for $750 to David and Betty Linn of Linn Law offices.
A cut tree was decorated by members of the Sierra Historic Sites Association with handmade, old-fashioned decorations that included quilted ornaments. It stood in contrast to the mustache-theme tree decorated by Coarsegold fourth graders in Victoria Glines' class. The money raised from the sale of the students' tree will help fund a living California history field trip, according to Glines.
Twins, Justin and Hannah Beaumont, fourth graders at Coarsegold Elementary School, assisted in the live auction by showing bidders which item was being auctioned. Hannah thought the experience was, "Awesome." Her brother was a bit more reserved with his description of the event being "Fun."
Silent auction items ranged from golf for four at both the River Creek Golf Course and Sierra Meadows Country Club to a family annual membership with Sierra Ambulance.
A Nancy Robbins photograph of El Capitan and the Merced River sold in the online auction as did a growler and gift certificate from the South Gate Brewery Company. Art supplies, jewelry, wine, home décor, and clothing items were auctioned off to the highest bidders in the silent auction.
Doug Macaulay, who has been a part of the auction since its inception 12 years ago was presented with a certificate of appreciation for his contributions to the event. After shadowing the late Al Lewis who was the first auctioneer for the Oakhurst Community park auction, Macaulay took over auctioneer duties and he is now stepping down from that position.
"We are in constant need of cash flow to pay a staff of three who serve 50 to 60 children a day," said Melanie Barker, president of the Boys & Girls Club of Oakhurst board of directors.
While there have been grants that have helped fund the BGCO in the past, stipulations with many grants do not allow their use to fund operating costs.
"We need volunteers at the club, just two hours a day or a week," Barker said. "There are people in the community with skill sets that the club could really use. We are trying to find people who care about children and children's passions."