BASS LAKE — It’s nice when a traditional community event takes on new life, and that’s what people are saying has happened with the annual Christmas Tree Auction held last Friday night at the Pines Resort in the Lakeview Room. It has always been a great event, raising funds for the Boys and Girls Club in Oakhurst and a host of other worthy nonprofits. This year, the committee made some changes to the program and the event was a soaring success.
Starting with the chic winter fantasy design of the room right down to the last bite of filet mignon and the final bid of the evening — the night was a big draw with all 240 tickets sold out before the event.
The way it works is that participating nonprofits bring either a fully-decorated wreath, table top tree, or full size tree for live auction by a professional auctioneer. Many of the trees come with gifts or gift certificates. 16 nonprofits were included in the evening’s offerings.
“It was amazing,” says Trisha Poffenberger, a member of Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS) in Coarsegold. “The committee really changed it up with décor and sit-down dinner. The filet mignon was amazing and the decor and ambiance were gorgeous.”
MOPS is a perfect example of one of the organizations that benefit from the tree auction, and their tree was one of the biggest winners of the night. MOPS’ theme of Free, Indeed was backed with this line: when mothers are uplifted & united, they are unstoppable.
The tree itself was donated to MOPS by Grocery Outlet says Trisha, mother of four, including 9-month-old twins. One MOPS mom made a garland of her retired husband’s military uniform.
Trisha has considered the MOPS’ participation in the tree auction one of the most important and exciting nights of the year for a group that knows what it takes to put a big event together.
MOPS, with help from Sierra Vista Presbyterian Church and community members and businesses, puts on the annual Community Baby Shower, serving hundreds of families over the years. The MOPS tree brought in a donation of $4,000 at the Christmas tree auction, money that will go right back into the community through the nonprofit organization’s efforts in the coming months.
Trisha took a step back from organizing the MOPS Christmas tree this year, citing the twins’ clause many mothers are familiar with. She was thrilled with the results.
“Beckie and Dena nailed it this year! I’m so proud of them,” Trisha says. “And I am thankful for them for putting in all the hard work, not letting the MOPS tree decline, and for completely supporting me in being more present for my family. These MOPS women are amazing. Supportive. Creative. Giving. And open to meeting and encouraging all moms in the mountain community.”
The carved eagle that went with their tree was made by Beckie’s husband Marc DeMasters, who was mentored by the late artist Terry Reed. The MOPS tree came with over $500 in gift cards and certificates, including one for jeweler Tiffany & Co.
MOPS was one of many organizations to benefit from the auction, say organizers.
“We are able to share the fact that $48,000 was raised for local charities,” says auction committee member Melanie Barker. “We asked the nonprofit participants to really step it up this year, and they rose to the occasion. Their efforts were appreciated and raised the bar for the entire event.”
Melanie notes that the top-selling items were MOPS, Sierra Pines Adventure Group, and Be the Power of One. In what appears to have been a “first,” Soroptimist of the Sierras received a $1,000 add-on to their tabletop tree.
“The décor was absolutely beautiful,” adds Melanie. “Truly transformative with pipe and drape covering most of the walls. The entry was like a winter wonderland. We had two full-size designer-decorated trees that were raffled off. It was fun because the auctioneer won one of them. He and his wife were ecstatic.”
Guests were also able to take advantage of a wine tree deal in which organizers raffled off bottles of wine every 15 or so minutes, keeping the energy and enthusiasm high while waiting for the big auction to start. Overall, the event had more raffle items this year, and higher-end silent auction items.
From Melanie’s perspective as a committee member, the best part was “the joy that everyone felt being at the Christmas Tree Auction. The number of compliments we received was truly overwhelming. In my not-so-humble opinion, it was the event of the year for our mountain community. Talk about an opportunity to ‘dress to impress’ — this was it.”
Shout-outs are due all around, she notes.
“To the committee, first of all. This was literally a year in the making to transform this event. We met monthly, or more, to figure out how we could liven things up, and get people talking about it again. The creativity and ideas from everyone was incredible.
“Christy Smith and Jessica Trettin had the design eye, utilizing modern color schemes and table décor. Divine Designs’ Kim and Rick were so amazing. We cannot thank them enough for their support of our vision.
“The Pines Resort and Ducey’s on the Lake were amazing to work with. We heard wonderful compliments about the food. Laura Norman with Sierra Tel brought in a new system that is designed for live auctions and we look forward to working with that again next year.
“Kristina Tracy, Jessica Steele, Mikaelle Trayer and Tammy VanRossen put in the vast majority of time and effort collecting wonderful raffle and silent auction items. Honorable mention goes out to Larry Smith of Custom Construction. Without him at set-up, we would have been lost.
“Donna Smith, as the most seasoned member of the team, made sure we dotted the i’s and crossed the t’s. Sue Graham was our go-to gal to make sure our raffle and silent auction items presented well by adding some magical touches.
“It was an honor and privilege to work with this wonderfully dedicated group.”
All photos courtesy of Trisha Poffenberger. Click on smaller images to enlarge.
People’s Choice Awards
- 1st – Sierra Pines Adventure Group
- 2nd – MOPS Coarsegold
- 3rd – Wawona Charter School
Innovation Award – Sierra Pines Adventure Group
Craftsmanship Award – Oakhurst Woodcarvers
Charity Spirit Award – Mountain Bear