SIKESTON - This year, when making out your Christmas gift list, consider giving something that will make a difference in someone's life.
Altrusa International Inc.'s O' Christmas Tree project not only gives guests an opportunity to do some Christmas shopping, but it provides an opportunity to reach out to abused and battered women and help make it possible for their lives to change forever.
Proceeds raised at the event, planned for Nov. 23 at the Elks Lodge in Sikeston, are used to benefit the House of Refuge for Abused and Battered Women and Children, with a small percentage of the proceeds going toward Altrusa's local projects.
In its fourth year, organizers are planning an extra special event, complete with optional valet parking, for the first time.
The evening begins at 6 p.m. with a cash bar and silent auction.
"The silent auction always generates a lot of excitement because people donate things that are very nice," said Linda Frankum, publicity chairman. "We've had people asking already do you think so and so will donate a ..... again because I'd sure like to give so and so that for Christmas. They're already visualizing."
A sit-down prime rib dinner will be served at 7 p.m. during which time the silent auction will continue.
At 8:15 p.m. the silent auction will close and a live auction will begin at 8:30 p.m.
Part of the live auction is a Christmas tree auction where various groups and organizations furnish and decorate a tree, many with a particular theme, to be auctioned off. In the past the trees have been anywhere from 3-feet to 10-feet-tall.
"The tree auction especially can help get you started on your decorations for the season," said Frankum. "If somebody purchases a tree, it's delivered the next day and it's all decorated. All they have to do is open the door and tell us where it goes."
And there's more to the live auction than trees. There will also be various donated items, including a golf trip and a duck hunting trip."People from all areas of the community get involved with this event," noted Frankum.
"We've even got little Girl Scouts who've donated Christmas trees," added Robin Dial, service committee chairman. Both women are also on the board of directors for the shelter.
Throughout the evening guests are invited to participate in a raffle and various activities such as the Christmas Cash game, where 100 tickets will be sold for $25 each, giving participants a one in 100 chance to win $1,000.
Another game that will be played is Last Card Standing, where two new 54-card decks will be used. Cards from one deck are sold for $5 each. The master of ceremonies will shuffle the remaining new deck and as each card is selected, the player holding the matching card is eliminated. The last card holder standing wins. There will also be attendance prizes awarded. As Frankum pointed out, community support is needed on a continuing basis to staff, furnish and supply a safe haven for victims of domestic violence. It takes $110,300 a year to operate the facility.
"We started this so we could earn money to help get the shelter open," explained Frankum. "We knew the need was there and it wasn't going to happen if it wasn't a grassroots effort. People in the county had to care enough about the people who needed help to get the project off the ground and people did care enough. They contributed and they backed O' Christmas Tree. It was a lot of work, especially that first year, but it was worth it and it's become an annual project to support and maintain the shelter."
Residents can help in a number of ways, including attending the event by purchasing tickets at $25 per person and $50 per couple. Individuals can become sponsors by purchasing a table for eight at $200.
Other ways to help the effort is by donating items for the silent auction, which can be anything from gift certificates to dog food to Christmas decorations.
Residents can also donate a decorated tree to be auctioned. Anyone interested willing to make a donation is asked to contact an Altrusa member with a description of the item by Nov. 21.
"It's a kick-off to the holiday season," Frankum said, noting that guests can dress as formal or casual as they wish. "We have families that come together, we have people who come alone and find someone to sit with, we've had moms and daughters. There's room for all ages."
"It's a nice meal and a fun evening for a pretty low price," added Dial. "Where else can you go, get waited on, have valet parking, be entertained and have a prime rib dinner all for $25?"
"And you don't have to worry about a tip," quipped Frankum. "You can use the tip money to bring things home for Christmas decorating, Christmas gifting or whatever."
For more information, to donate an item or for reservations call 472-4499. Donations can also be sent to Altrusa, P.O. Box 244, Sikeston, Mo. 63801.