Although attendance at the “Spirit of Christmas” was down slightly from last year, the 13th-annual event on Sunday at La Place Rendez-Vous raised more than $13,000, which will be shared between the local branch of the Canadian Cancer Society and the Fort Frances “Community Chest.”
“It’s a really nice kick-off for Christmas and it went very well,” noted Linda Hamilton, who sits on the organizing committee.
For the second year in a row, the popular event ran two weeks earlier than in the past and it began at 4 p.m. rather than later in the evening.
“I think more people come out because it’s earlier in the evening,” Hamilton said. “But I think we could probably speed things up a little bit.”
Since the fundraiser fell on Remembrance Day this year, organizers assigned the theme of “Memories” in order to honour and remember the fallen soldiers.
There were refreshments and a number of draws to purchase tickets on, in addition to the multitude of donated crafts, goody baskets, gift certificates, and other items up for bid in the live and silent auctions.
“We are wonderfully appreciative of everyone that donates no matter how big or how small,” stressed Hamilton.
She noted there are people of all ages who have submitted items for the auction and some even have given anonymously.
“There’s lots of people not looking for the glory. . . . We’re a compilation of many people offering what they can,” Hamilton added, saying they are thankful of all donations no matter what it is that was contributed.
“Some things go for way more than I think they’re worth and some things we’re disappointed with because we think they should do better,” she admitted.
“But that’s part of what an auction is . . . and it’s all for a great cause.”
A number of items also were available through a live auction run by auctioneer Lanny Cross of Atikokan.
“We had a really nice crowd,” said Laureen Vandetti, who also sits on the organizing committee. “In years past it’s been so busy you can barely move, so it turned out really well.”
She explained that with nearly 200 in attendance, there were about 48 fewer people than last year, but in terms of funds raised, they were ahead by more than $500.
“People were quite generous,” she remarked.
“I’m always humbled by the amount of donations that come in for the ‘Spirit of Christmas’—it’s amazing,” Hamilton enthused. “It takes a lot of work to get there and a lot of support.”
She added there are a lot of volunteers who offer up their time and the sponsors, including La Place Rendez-Vous, which provides the use of the room.
“Everything is donated and we’re so thankful because we couldn’t do it without all the volunteers and contributors,” Hamilton stressed.