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Saturday, Nov. 22, 2014

Altrusa Club wants to spread cheer and make a difference

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

(Photo)
Crystal Peyton, membership chairperson of the Altrusa Club, decorates a Christmas tree. The trees will be part of the live auction at the club's annual O' Christmas Tree fundraiser, set for Saturday. The night also includes dinner, musical entertainment and a silent auction.
(Photo by Michelle Felter, Staff)
SIKESTON -- Members of the Altrusa Club don't just want to spread the holiday cheer with their upcoming fundraiser. They want to make a difference in people's lives at the same time.

"Coming in and seeing all of the Christmas decorations and items kind of gets everyone in the mood," said Melissa Eakins, president of the group. "Especially when you come home with Christmas items."

"Silver Bells," the theme for this year's O' Christmas Tree fundraiser, will be Saturday night at the Sikeston Armory. Tickets for the annual dinner and auction, which benefit the House of Refuge and other community projects, remain available.

Several holiday items are up for bid at the auction, including trees which club members decorate.

"We have all different sizes of Christmas trees that are already decorated, and we deliver them to the buyer's house the day after the auction," said Robin Dial, a member of the club.

"And we have some very talented members who come up with the theme and decorations," said Eakins.

The trees are themed and some this year are Hannah Montana, woodlands and gold tones, said Dial.

The bidding on those is quite competitive, too, said Eakins. She had her eye on one tree last year, but ultimately did not take it home. But, it still gave her decoration ideas. "I tried to decorate my tree closely to it," she said.

There are about 75 total items in the live and silent auctions combined, while donations are still coming in, said Dial.

Some of the big-ticket items donated for the auction include: St. Louis Blues hockey tickets for plaza seats at the Dec. 20 game; a Cardinals package, including two tickets to a July games against the Dodgers, as well as a hotel stay, T-shirts and other items; club level seats for the Dec. 14 Rams versus Seattle Seahawks game; and an eight-hour fishing charter trip on the Crown Royal.

There are also quite a few Christmas-theme items, in addition to gift certificates to local businesses. "It's a wide range of things and you can actually do some of your Christmas shopping," said Dial.

One thing past attendees will likely notice at this year's event is more entertainment. Those lined up for this year include the high school string quartet, led by Gay French to play during cocktail hour; the Dickens Carolers group will sing during the dinner hour; and Hunter Borton, a teen from New Madrid, is set to sing following dinner. Other entertainment possibilities are also in the works, said Dial.

There are also some other games played to help break up the night. For instance, in "Last Card Standing" the 52 cards of a deck are sold for $5 each. One by one coordinating cards are pulled, until the last one -- and it's owner -- are left. The prize is a donated diamond ring, said Dial.

"It just kind of breaks up the night a bit," Dial said of the game. "And it gives everybody time to loosen up before we start the live auction."

There are also various raffles held through the night.

The Altrusa Club typically makes between $12,000 and $15,000 from the fundraiser. About $10,000 of that is donated to the local House of Refuge.

"But we also use it for our other projects," said Dial. Those include a Heart to Heart Valentine's Day project, scholarships, the Christmas Connection and Kindergarten Literacy Project.

Dial said that, since Altrusa is a women's club, "it's empowering" to donate so much to the House of Refuge.

"And a few of our members are actually board members for the house," she said. "So we see our money at work on a daily basis."

Linda Frankum, director of the House of Refuge and an Altrusa member, agreed. She said the club's support helps keep the house going.

"Whenever the House of Refuge needs something, we appeal to the Altrusa Club and they are right there with the item, the money or whatever it is we need," said Frankum.

"And knowing the hard work that goes into making it makes it even more significant," she continued. "It's a tremendous help, and it means so much to the victims of domestic violence and sexual assault."

Frankum said she and others at the House of Refuge appreciate not only what the club does, but also those who donate and purchase the item.

"We have wonderful community support," agreed Eakins.

And it's an event Frankum hopes even more people attend this year.

"If you haven't come before, try it and you'll have a wonderful time," said Frankum. "It's always a lot of fun, and I think it will be even more fun this year. It's a good break from the grind.

If you go

What: "Silver Bells," O' Christmas Tree benefit dinner and auction

When: Saturday. Cocktails at 6 p.m., dinner, by Trisha's Catering, is served a 7 p.m.

Where: The National Guard Armory, 300 S. Main in Sikeston

How much: Tickets are $60 per person and available from Altrusa Club members, at Collins Music, New To You, the House of Refuge Resale shop at 505 Davis Blvd., or by calling Judy Sewell at 620-3950 All contributions are tax deductible and proceeds will be used to benefit the club's local projects, as well as the House of Refuge