ALC Christmas Tree Auction By Arel M. Chamberlain II Snowballs and cookies were on display when the Assistance League of Carlsbad held its annual Christmas Tree Auction, their largest yearly fundraising event. While already notable as a return to the attended event after the remote format of last year, this year’s auction was the first to be held in a hybrid format. While a number of donors gathered in person at the ALC chapter house on 1100 N. Canal, many more were able to attend the auction virtually, as the event was also streamed live on the Assistance League of Carlsbad’s Facebook page (Facebook.com/ALCarlsbad). Virtual attendees were able to bid on Christmas trees and centerpieces by phone, competing with those physically in attendance for the honor of owning one of the twenty-six trees created by ALC volunteers. Once more Dave Rogers, better known as Preacher Dave, acted as auctioneer, giving a lively and fun atmosphere to the event. Food and drink were provided, with the buffet generously handmade by the volunteers of the ALC, who were also responsible for the twenty-six breathtaking trees. The night’s highest seller was Baking Spirits Bright: a striking, creative take on traditional Christmas trees adorned with baked goods and the gingerbread chefs who prepared them. Atop the tree, one such baker beamed from behind a tray of Christmas-themed cookies, and beneath him a sign proudly declared that his old-fashioned baked goods were homemade, baked daily, and made with love. A number of quick and early bids marked competition for this tree, only to be quickly quashed by the winning bid of $5,000.Second to Baking Spirits Bright was Bonnie Caringorm Christmas. A crown of blue and silver poinsettias rested upon the topmost branches of this tree, while blue and silver ribbons wound about green boughs, familiar orbs, and yet more poinsettias like mountainous rivers. Though Bonnie Caringorm Christmas appeared more traditional than others, such as Baking Spirits Bright, the tree was no less striking for it. A brief but intense round of bidding saw Bonnie Caringorm Christmas sell for a tidy sum of $3,000.Commanding the third spot for the night’s top sellers was Snowman Snowball Fun. This fun and festive design featured mischievous snowmen, snowballs in hand, popping from between the boughs. Snowflakes and snowballs both could be found amidst the branches as well, the latter also tossed into the crowd by auctioneer Dave Rogers, to much delight. Bidding for Snowman Snowball Fun quickly rose to over $2,000 before finally selling for $2,600, only slightly less than the second top-seller Bonnie Caringorm Christmas. Twenty-six trees were on display, and though few could individually match the fundraising potential of the night’s top-selling trees, many were no less notable. Brown Christmas drew much attention with its hand-crafted wooden Peanuts characters and blinking lights reminiscent the eponymous Christmas special, drawing an opening bid of $1,000 before being sold for a final price of $2,200. Christmas Magical & Merry, a delightful tree featuring ornaments bearing hand-painted likenesses of M&M’s candy and mascots, was sold for a final price of $2,050 and came with the promise of a bag of M&M’s from Dave. Ten centerpieces were auction as well, accumulating a combined total of over $1,000. In total, the event raised over $40,000 for the ALC’s many philanthropic programs, with each tree selling for an average price of nearly $1,550. These funds will go toward clothing children in need through programs such as Operation School Bell, the Eleanor Harroun Merit Scholarship, and the Books and Beyond program, which helps elementary school children strengthen their reading skills through volunteer guidance and book rewards. Every one of the twenty-six trees was sold, but not only for private interests. A number were purchased and donated to local businesses and organizations, such as Noah’s Ark and the Cavern City Advocacy Center, with whom the Assistance League of Carlsbad works to clothe children and even victims of violent assault with their ASKs, or Assault Survival Kits, which include such items as warm-ups and hygiene kits. While the physical trees themselves will remain within the ALC chapter house, volunteers will recreate them in purchasers’ houses and businesses’ facilities come December.
For those unable to attend the auction, either in person or virtually, a recording of the night’s events can be viewed on the Assistance League of Carlsbad’s Facebook page (Facebook.com/ALCarlsbad)