The virtual Festival of Trees, which wrapped up the silent auction and a day-long virtual auction of the decorated Christmas trees, raised around $30,000 altogether, an “amazing” amount considering circumstances.
(Shown above are the top two trees for prices: a tree donated by Southern Glass Works which went for $3,000 to Barber Motors, and a tree donated by Remax, which was bought for $2,000 by Annugas Compression.)
The annual fundraiser for the Family Place has always garnered a lot of community support, but organizers were worried about this year’s version as due to COVID-19, everything had to be done online, with no viewing of Christmas trees, and no in-person auction of the trees possible.
There were 86 items in the silent auction, and they brought in $9,200, along with 18 decorated Christmas trees which raised a total of $20,000. In addition, the Angel Tree set up by Fletcher’s Funeral Chapel raised $500.
The Angel Tree, for which people could purchase an angel ornament in memory of a loved one, was set up for the public to see at the RONA store.
“With what’s going on around us, it’s hard to be asking for money,” said Dawn Gutzke, executive director of the Family Place, noting that when the bids opened on Thursday for the online tree auction, “the bids just kept coming and coming. We just felt so much love and support from the community.”
She added she and the Family Place staff and the board are very grateful for all of the support.
“We’re so appreciative for all the support in a time when it’s so difficult for the community. Everybody’s pulling together and working together to ensure this community is strong and connected,” said Gutzke.
She admitted they were apprehensive about how well it would go when no one could go and see the trees, and the final auction couldn’t be done in person but over the Internet, but there were so many great items donated for the silent auction and the tree auction received some really good bids throughout the day.
“It all came together once we launched it. It worked really well,” said Gutzke.
The giving continued on Friday, as a number of the purchased trees were donated back to the Family Place to give to a family in need. As of Friday afternoon, Knight Dodge donated back the two trees they bought, as did Whitecap Resources, E. Bourassa and Sons and Darren Boren.
The top tree in terms of bids was the tree donated by Southern Glass Works, entitled “Christmas Elegance”, which went for $3,000, bought by Barber Motors.
The second-highest price for a tree was $2,000 for the tree donated by Remax Weyburn, entitled “Shabby Chic”, bought by Annugas Compression.
Gutzke said the proceeds raised by this event will help “fill the gaps”, such as helping to pay some of the bills for their operations, that aren’t covered by grants and other funding for their programs like Mini-Go.
“It literally does keep the doors open to the Family Place,” she said, adding while the total amount raised was lower than in previous years, given the economic times and COVID, they had expected fewer trees and lower bids, so they found it amazing they ended up receiving the level of support that came in.
A tree donated by Kingston Midstream, “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree”, was bought by Jeff Tosczak for $1,600; the YF Wives tree, “Cozy at home Christmas”, went for $1,500 to Right Choice Energy Services; the Family Place tree, “The Christmas Nutcracker”, was bought by Great Plains Ford for $1,400; and the Blue Earth tree, “I’m a Barbie Girl”, went for $1,300 to E. Bourassa and Sons.
Two trees were bought for $1,200, including one from Weyburn Canadian Tire, “A Cranberry Christmas”, to Minard’s Leisure World, and the Weyburn Fire Brigade’s tree, “Tis the Season to be Jolly”, to Whitecap Resources.
A tree from the Weyburn Credit Union, “Christmas in the Forest”, was bought by Knight Dodge for $900; a tree from Melissa’s Cotton Candy, “Sweet Treats”, was bought by Aaron Well Servicing for $650; and two trees from CIBC, “A Christmas Ball Princess”, Nos. 1 and 2, went to Colleen Herberholz Morrice for $325 and to Knight Dodge for $350.
A tree from Key Well Servicing, “The Key to Christmas”, was bought by Southern Glass Works for $900; a tree donated by CUPE, “A Dazzling Christmas”, was bought by Miller Well Servicing for $900; a tree donated by Weyburn Kin Club, “A Little Bit of Everything”, was bought by Minard’s Leisure World for $800; and the Royal Bank’s tree, “A Christmas Angel”, was bought by Darren Boren for $800.
A tree donated by Commander Spray Foam, “A Magical Christmas”, was bought by Glenn Ziegler for $700, and a tree donated by Great Plains Ford, “Let It Snow”, was bought by Annugas Compression for $1,000.