Light Up the Season: Decorated trees brighten coffers of Boys & Girls Club
By Peggy Kelly
Santa Paula News
Published: November 20, 2013
By Peggy Kelly
Santa Paula Times
The late poet Joyce Kilmer famously wrote, “I think that I shall never see,
A poem lovely as a tree.”
But if Kilmer had attended Saturday’s 2nd Annual Light Up the Season Tree Raffle to benefit Boys & Girls Clubs of Santa Clara Valley he likely would have been inspired to pen, “I think I shall never see, Anything as lovely as each dressed tree!”
There were almost two dozen trees lavishly decorated for the fundraising occasion, each one ready to be taken home by any of the approximately 200 guests that purchased raffle tickets to try to win their favorite.
The event was held at the Clubhouse at Harding Park where the interior of the “Positive Place for Kids” was freshly repainted to better show off the twinkling trees and all the goodies they held, from spun silver angels and sparkling jewelry and Lakers items to fine liquors, Disney collectibles and everyone’s favorite holiday green-cash!
Twinkling lights adorned the 4-foot-tall artificial trees but there was nothing fake about the unbelievable goodies on and below each sponsored tree, every one worth a minimum of $250.
Club CEO Jan Marholin said last year B&GCSCV supporter Becci Orlando approached the club about the unique event that relies on tree sponsors to “adopt” the symbol of Christmas and dress each to a theme.
“The event was a smash hit our first year, we have people today that came in on a standing room only basis just to try to win trees and next year I think we’re going to need a bigger venue!” said Marholin.
The results were again spectacular with trees that dazzled with beauty, whimsy and plenty of bling, each playing off a theme for the decorations and the gifts under the branches.
Guests purchased $1 raffle tickets to deposit in the marked bags next to each tree to see if Lady Luck would grant them their favorites.
“These trees are so beautiful,” said Supervisor Kathy Long who had so much trouble narrowing down which trees she would try for that she finally exclaimed, “I need more tickets!”
Santa Paula Police Chief Steve McLean and Fillmore VCSD Chief Monica McGrath, both club board directors, were among the crowd as well as retired Ventura County Superior Court Judge Edward Brodie, VCSD Deputy Jack McGrath, Santa Paula Unified School District Superintendent Alfonso Gamino, Asst. Superintendent Dr. Paul Chounet and representatives of Assemblyman Das Williams and Rep. Julia Brownley.
Donna Nelson and the Isbell Middle School Condor Choir provided holiday music as the crowd swirled by the trees and during the elegant buffet provided by the Glen Tavern Inn’s Enzo’s. The talented Corin Conant offered several songs, accompanying herself on acoustic guitar.
James Lantiegne of The House of Magic conjured up a show of wonderful illusions and plenty of humor using members of the audience to help the tricks-and the laughs-along.
“Every penny raised here today will really, really help our kids,” said Board Chairwoman Tammy Hobson who noted the club runs lean although not mean.
“This is it.... this clubhouse is the heart and the soul of our club and it serves many, many people,” with minimal staffing.
“It’s a small staff,” that Hobson said deserves a “big shout out,” for the work they do with a limited budget for the population of kids-including those at-risk-served by club programs and activities.
Also garnering thanks was Becci Orlando who Hobson noted again chaired the event and designed many of the trees using sponsor donations.
Peggy Kelly, assisted by her 9-year-old granddaughter Amber Grace Wineman of Newbury Park, was Mistress of Ceremonies and oversaw the raffle which brought cheers from winners and their tables of family and friends and anguished but good natured cries from those that saw the trees they coveted go to another ticket holder.
When the final ticket was drawn, Orlando announced that guests might have a better chance in winning trees at next year’s Light Up the Season.
“I don’t think we can make it better,” said Orlando, “but we can make it bigger!”