A yearly tradition to mark the beginning of the holiday season for a number of Santa Clarita residents, the Boys and Girls Club of Santa Clarita Valley held its annual Festival of Trees fundraiser Saturday.
Although each Christmas tree and gingerbread house being auctioned off was created by different volunteers with different themes and ornamentation, every dollar went toward the same cause: raising money for kids who use the Boys and Girls Club.
“Anybody from the community can come by, view all of the beautifully designed trees, gingerbread houses, we have the kids corner activity going on for the kids to make all the cookies and crafts, and then live entertainment throughout the day,” said Matthew Nelson, chief executive officer for the Boys and Girls Club.
As people walked around the pavilion set up on one of the far ends of the mall, they scratched out bids on pieces of paper, with some bids reaching into the thousands of dollars range. People could do the same process for the gingerbread houses.
Nelson said there are two Boys and Girls Clubs in Santa Clarita, and both will benefit from the funds raised during the events happening all weekend at the Festival of Trees at the Westfield Valencia Town Center. According to Nelson, 300 to 400 kids use the facilities everyday and each one participates in programs as well as receives a snack after school.
“The membership for the club costs us $800 per kid, but we only charge $60 a year,” said Nelson. He added the kids are put on scholarships which allows them to come and participate in fun, safe activities all year round.
Nelson said the auction event — which featured trees done up in everything from winter themes to Star Wars characters — has been going on for nearly two decades, and can raise upwards of $200,000.
“All of our designers and gingerbread house makers are volunteers,” said Nelson. “It takes a small army to put this on.”
Nelson said the bidding for the trees is set to conclude at 5 p.m. Sunday, and people should head over before lunch tomorrow before the final rush comes in.
“We’re expecting a lot of people, but you don’t want to wait till the very end,” said Nelson. “At 5 p.m. we go one by one and close out, and sometimes we get some live auction bidding going on as we’re closing.”
Doors open at 10:00 am for the Sunday event.