Annual event, which raised more than $100,000 last year, will feature more emphasis on the Friday open house

CENTRAL OREGONIAN - The Hospice Christmas Auction will feature 25 specially decorated trees this year.

The public is invited to participate in a "Winter Wonderland" this weekend while supporting a long-standing tradition and fundraising effort.

The Hospice Christmas Auction returns to the Crook County Fairgrounds Indoor Arena, starting Friday evening with an open house event and a dinner and auction the following night.

The event, now in its 27th year, has become a high-dollar fundraiser for St. Charles Hospice, drawing large crowds who are not shy about bidding up to four figures on specially decorated Christmas trees and elaborate quilts.

Last year, the dinner and auction drew more than 650 visitors to the arena and raised about $105,000 to benefit St. Charles Hospice.

Event coordinator Ann Fisher said the 2018 Winter Wonderland-themed event will launch this Friday with an open house. Though the free preview portion of the event, scheduled from 4 to 8 p.m., is not new to the Hospice Auction, Fisher said that organizers hope to draw more attention and visitors to it this year.

"We are trying to focus a little more on it this year, just to make sure that people know about it and get their families down there so that kids can see the trees and get families involved a bit more," Fisher explained. "I think it is important to get youth involved in volunteering and things like that at a young age, and what better way to inspire them than by bringing them down (to the Hospice Auction open house)."

Fisher stressed that the open house will provide a complete preview of what greets dinner and auction ticketholders on Saturday evening.

"We will have Christmas music playing. The trees will be all lit up. The quilts will be hung. Everything will be out," she said. "And, for the first time ever, we are going to have a slide show. It is about Hospice and what it does for our community."

The slide show was created by Lisa McGowan, St. Charles Hospice Volunteer Coordinator.

In addition, another Christmas tree will be featured in the arena lobby, where people who cannot afford to attend the Saturday night event can still make a donation.

"Anyone who makes a donation gets a free ornament," Fisher remarked.

Tickets for the Saturday event cost $20 per individual or $400 for a full table reservation. Doors open at 5 p.m. Dennis Turmon will once again serve as the auctioneer, and Paul Slater will emcee the event.

"We will have about 25 trees and 15 quilts and lots of silent auction items," Fisher said.

While the event has managed to raise more than $100,000 for the past few years, Fisher was reluctant to put a dollar amount on the fundraising goal this year.

"We just want to do the very best we can," she said. "It is just such a long-standing tradition in the community. It does so much for so many."


Last year's Hospice Auction funds provided (in Prineville):

532 massages for pain relief

429 hours of paid caregiving assistance to give emotionally exhausted family members a break

37 residents received ongoing Lifeline services so their loved ones could run to the grocery store or continue working

49 residents served by the Transitions program, which provides volunteers, access to community resources, emotional support and outreach to community members facing life-limiting illness

117 families participated in the bereavement program where they were provided support groups, phone calls, mailings and other support services

Other funds go toward specialty mattresses, a harpist at death vigils, clothing, food, gas cards, batteries for motorized wheel chairs, and bereavement outreach to nursing facilities in Prineville.

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