The Boys & Girls Club of Santa Clarita Valley held its annual Festival of Trees auction fundraiser on Saturday and Sunday at the old Saddle Ranch in Westfield Valencia Town Center.
The weekend event followed Friday’s Magic of the Lights Gala. It featured tabletop and large trees skillfully decorated to be auctioned online to raise money for the Boys & Girls Club’s after-school programs, which service 700 kids.
Club CEO Matthew Nelson said the organization aims to help those students in Santa Clarita who need it the most. The funds raised by the event help fund the many programs offered to the community.
“We’re able to provide academic support, a second home and build our leaders in the community,” Nelson said.
Last year was tough for the organization due to COVID-19 disruptions that caused the event to be virtual, according to Nelson.
This year has seen some of the most significant support, donations and funding with the potential to break the goal of $150,000. The gala had more than 200 in attendance, and the event has received an outpouring of support from the community.
“Six months ago, we started planning for this event and we didn’t know what the situation would be, considering how things were last year,” Nelson said.
The event is in its 19th year is considered the kickoff to the holidays in Santa Clarita, with families regularly attending, buying trees and helping to get everyone excited for the festive time, according to Nelson.
“We always tell people, if you need a new tree, got a new place or you got space for another tree,” Nelson said. “There’s all these beautifully designed trees and the big trees get delivered to your house.”
Many companies sponsor the event, and various trees and help fund the costs of the event. Additionally, many companies and individuals can make a direct cash donation. Friday’s gala event brought in $50,000 in cash donations.
Nelson, impressed with the community response, support from various organizations and volunteers, said, “We definitely want to thank our Festival of Trees committee of volunteers that make it happen, our title sponsor FivePoint for making it possible and all of our supporters who have come out to see the event.”
Festival of Trees entertainment chair Brian Hoffman is in his 14th year volunteering and helps with recruiting the entertainment and volunteers.
“So our family and my kids are now 16 years old, have grown up here and we have always been big supporters of everything that Boys and Girls Club does,” Hoffman said.
Hoffman and the other members of the committee were uncertain of the size of the event because of the COVID-19 restrictions, and the entertainment was scaled down, according to Hoffman.
Performances did include the Gervais Dance Studio and Innovation Show Choir, which traditionally perform at fundraising events.
Student volunteers Cooper Segall, Alondra Casas and Vivian Garces spent the weekend greeting guests, facilitating wherever needed, and helping families experience the holiday cheer.
Segall, an honors student from Golden Valley High School, wanted an opportunity to volunteer and wasn’t previously involved with the Boys & Girls Club but saw an opportunity to understand the organization better and bring cheer to people.
“I thought it was a good cause to be selling Christmas trees during COVID, when everyone’s down and you want the Christmas spirit to be spread around to the community,” Segall said.
Casas previously volunteered in 2019 and enjoyed seeing all the festivities and how families had fun attending. However, she wanted to experience the event one more time before heading off to college.
Garces has attended the annual event with her family, and appreciates everything the Boys & Girls Club does for the community of Santa Clarita and wants to contribute to that happiness the event brings.
“I just love like seeing everyone get together. It’s decorated so beautifully, it’s such a good event for the community and I think everyone enjoys it every year,” Garces said.