Season kicks off with United Way fundraiser

The United Way of San Benito County will kick off the holiday season a little early on Saturday with its Christmas Extravaganza, at Ridgemark Golf and Country Club, 3800 Airline Hwy., in Hollister, at 5:30 p.m.

The evening event is a throwback to a fundraiser the United Way used to have in the past. The Christmas Extravaganza is a unique fundraiser where guests have the chance to bid on a fully-decorated faux tree.

“When United Way was actively involved (in San Benito) this  huge fundraiser we did years ago,” said Starr Wolf, the coordinator for United Way in the county. “Some people asked if we could bring it back.”

Wolf said the fundraiser is a little different than the “wine and cheese” events held by many nonprofits in San Benito.

“We have Christmas trees we are auctioning off, plus other items,” Wolf said. “Several people are decorating wreaths and those will also be sold at the event.”

Tickets are $50 per person, with reserved tables for 10 available that include two bottles of wine. Cocktails will be served from 5:30-6:30 p.m., with the program and dinner to begin at 7 p.m., with the auction at 8 p.m.

Some of the auction items include a decorated Manzanita tree; candy by Marich Confectionery to serve with 50 bowls and decorations included; a wine tree with wine from Hahn, Galante Vineyards and other wineries; a rodeo package with tickets to the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas, the San Benito County Saddle Horse Show and Rodeo and the California Rodeo Salinas; and more items.

Wolf said the fundraiser will benefit the partner agencies with which United Way works, which Wolf said focus on agencies that offer safety-net services. Some of the agencies that benefit include the Community Food Bank, Emmaus House, Ag Against Hunger and the YMCA, among others.

The YMCA afterschool program students just completed a fundraiser for the United Way in September. The students at the YMCA programs throughout the county collected $88.97 in piggy banks as part of its monthly service learning project and turned the money over just recently.

The United Way will also be participating in the 12 Days of Giving, a fundraiser with the Community Foundation for San Benito County that will kick off at the Lights On Parade on Nov. 24.

Every dollar raised by the United Way goes back into services in the community because they have a grant from the Packard Foundation to cover operating costs for the agency.

“We’ve had a lot of interest and we are very excited about it because it is going to be a beautiful evening,” Wolf said. “I’m looking forward to experience my first one. A lot of man hours have gone into it, and we have a lot of wonderful ideas and items to be auctioned off.”

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