Afternoon of tea, champagne and fundraising

The Women's Club, pictured above at its annual tea fundraiser, is one of several agencies that is partnering with the Community Foundation for San Benito County to create a Women's Fund.

The White Elephant Auction and Champagne Tea hosted by the Women’s Club of Hollister and the Friends of the San Benito County Free Library offered area residents a chance to bid on auction items, compete for raffle prizes and learn a little bit about history while supporting scholarships and library services at San Juan Oaks Golf Club.

The third annual event was co-sponsored by the Women’s Club of Hollister and the Friends of the San Benito County Free Library. The proceeds go to scholarships for local high school girls for college and to support the San Benito County Free Library.

“Every year it gets bigger,” said Rebecca Salinas, president of the San Benito County Free Library.

Harriet Brin, a Friends of the Library member, said she had seen a steady stream of guests signing in during the first hour of the event. She said they had sold more tickets than last year, too.

Since March is Women’s History month, a display about the history of the local library and the General Federation of Women’s Clubs lined the lobby of San Juan Oaks Golf Club. It even included a copy of a local newspaper from Dec. 5, 1913, with an article about a mass meeting of women called in Hollister. The General Federation of Women’s Clubs was started in 1868, with the Hollister chapter forming in 1913. Since then, the groups have supported national women’s efforts as well as local ventures.

The first iteration of a local library came in the form of the San Benito reading room, opened in 1903. Later in 1910, the Carnegie Foundation provided funding to form the San Benito County Free Library. It has been housed in the courthouse, the Veterans Memorial Building and now in its current location on Fifth Street.

The celebration at San Juan Oaks included afternoon tea, and treats such as scones and tea sandwiches and champagne. While the women in attendance enjoyed the libations and snacks, they could relax at tables decorated with festive napkins in pale spring colors or they could walk the perimeter of the room to place bids on silent-auction items.

The auction items, all donated by members of the community or the women in attendance, included such items as teapots, golf clubs and themed baskets. Some of the baskets were filled with tea-related items or sweet treats, while others held unique gifts such as 49er football ornaments and decorations, or a basket devoted to dog toys and treats.

Many guests sported green since the event was hosted right before St. Patrick’s Day, with a few women donning oversized green Leprechaun top hats. Volunteers selling raffle tickets wore headbands with green shamrocks on their heads, and shamrock decorations were scattered on the auction table.

Each person to attend the afternoon tea received one raffle ticket and more were available for purchase. Raffle prizes sat along one wall of the room, with cups in front of each one. Guests were able to put in as many or as few raffle tickets into each cup so that they had a chance to win just the prizes in which they were interested. Some of the raffle prizes included teapots, scarves and picture frames.

Ruben Centeno played guitar music from one corner of the room, adding to the relaxing atmosphere.

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