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‘Spirit of Christmas’ proceeds tip the scales

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Preliminary results tallied from the fourth-annual “Spirit of Christmas” fundraiser here Sunday night indicate at least $16,000 was raised--a jump of nearly $4,000 over last year.

And that has organizers from the Fort Frances unit of the Canadian Cancer Society, which hosted the popular event, sporting big grins.

“Last year’s total was in the teens but not at 16 [thousand]!” Todd Hamilton, communications chairman for the local unit, enthused Monday.

“Once again we are overwhelmed,” he added, noting more than 200 people turned out this year.

Hamilton said organizers had been braced to raise a lot less money than in past years due to the recent mill strike.

“We were prepared to just be happy to be holding the event,” he noted. “We expected it to plateau [in proceeds] at some point--but it hasn’t!”

More than 300 handcrafted items were up for grabs at the “Spirit of Christmas” silent auction, with most of those donated by local residents.

“People are so good at giving . . . that’s the spirit,” echoed co-organizer Elsie Cameron, who handles community services for the local Cancer Society unit.

A handcrafted quilt, bought by Marg Miller, fetched the highest price among the silent auction items. Although the exact amount was not disclosed, it was in excess of the $456 paid by Kim Gardiman for the coveted “Beanie Baby” tree.

Ironically, Gardiman didn’t even know the prized collection was being offered at the event until she saw people hovering around it. In fact, she admitted to not being “up” on the “Beanie Baby” craze at all--and wasn’t a collector.

“I noticed [the tree] when I got there and that it was being bid on so I decided to give it a try,” Gardiman noted Monday.

An ill-timed “call of nature” may have cost Scott Clendenning, a friend of Gardiman’s who had been bidding against her most of the night, the “Beanie Baby” tree. He noted his three-year-old daughter, Hailey, was a collector and his main objective for being there was to win the item for her as a Christmas present.

“She beat me by only a buck,” he chuckled. “I was in the washroom when they pulled the [bid sheet].”

But Clendenning said he wasn’t upset about not having the winning bid, stressing the fundraiser’s purpose was more important than anything else.

“[The proceeds] go to a great cause. We’ve probably all had someone close to us who’s been affected by cancer,” he noted.

“It’s the fun of outbidding each other--and in the end he congratulated me,” Gardiman interjected. “In fact, it will probably be a family joke between us for years.”

Another popular item on the block was an interactive dinner for eight sponsored by the Fort Frances Little Theatre, which fetched $425 from Joyce Meyers.

Proceeds from the “Spirit of Christmas” help to fund cancer research and health lifestyles promotions, as well as to assist local cancer patient with travel and medical expenses.

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