April 12th, 2024

Tree auction raising funds for hospital foundation

By Lethbridge Herald on November 20, 2023.

Sherri Odland, interim executive director of the Chinook Regional Hospital Foundation, along with development officer Shonna Lamb, look at some of the 22 Christmas trees that will be auctioned at a fundraising gala Wednesday night. Herald photo by Al Beeber

Al Beeber – LETHBRIDGE HERALD – abeeber@lethbridgeherald.com

For the 29th year, the Chinook Regional Hospital Foundation is staging its fundraising Christmas tree festival.

On Wednesday at a gala, the CRH will see 22 beautifully decorated trees auctioned off to the highest bidders.

Last year, after the festival returned live following two years of COVID-19 restrictions, the CRH raised just over $170,000 from the auction.

Before bids start, the public has a chance to view the trees at the Enmax Centre today from noon until 8 p.m.

Today is the last day of the festival which kicked off Sunday and included a free family skate night Monday from 5 until 8 p.m. at the Enmax Centre.

By the noon on Monday, a couple dozen of the $125 tickets remained for the gala which starts Wednesday with a champagne reception at 6:30 p.m. followed by the auction at 7:30.

Development officer Shonna Lamb of the foundation told media about 25 per cent of trees are donated each year after the auction into the community.

The foundation, said Lamb, has no specific expectations from the auction this year.

In addition to the trees, there are five other items that have been donated by companies to be auctioned off, Lamb said.

“The monies that are raised with any of our events goes to what we call ‘greatest needs.’ So every year we work to find out what are items, what are the programs are needed to be purchased. Recently, we’ve invested in eight new chairs for the Jack Ady Cancer Centre, chemo chairs, we’ve invested in new stretchers, some projects within the emergency department,” said Lamb.

“All of the money that’s raised stays here in the community to help benefit the hospital,” Lamb added.

The foundation works with hospital administration to determine what next needs to be prioritized. After the auction, work will be done to determine where best to spend proceeds.

One popular tree is donated by the University of Lethbridge book store and often it will sell for $5,000 to $6,000 and often it will be donated to a school, Lamb said.

“The generosity kind of trickles down the line,” she said.

“We’re so thankful for the community support,” Lamb added.

A hundred decorators create the trees which have various themes.

Lamb said there was a lot of relief and excitement last year with the return of a live auction.

“Last year there was so much excitement. I think there was a little bit of trepidation still because it was so new. It had been postponed for two years so we’ve had a full year to build excitement for this year,” said Lamb.

About 1,000 people saw the trees on the first day of the festival, about double from the turnout on opening day in 2022.

Trees will be hand-wrapped after the auction and delivered Thursday and Friday to successful bidders.

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