By JAMES TUBB on December 16, 2023.
Hatters gathered Thursday night at Dayz Off Pub for an evening of fun and giving during the Medicine Hat News Santa Claus Fund’s 32nd annual Charity Auction.
SCF executive director Deanna Doerksen told the News it’s been a grind to get donations this year but they were still able to raise $44,051 at the auction.
“It was a wonderful evening, it was very heartwarming,” Doerksen said. “Our community stepped up once again to ensure that our local children experienced the magic of Christmas.”
There were lots of items available to fulfil the many wants and needs of those in attendance, looking to share a dollar or more to give gifts and the enjoyment of the Holidays to those in need.
The item drawing the most interest was a bench carved from wood by Marina Cole of Chainsaw Spirit. Doerksen says it went for over $7,000, a total only surpassed by the Yuill family, who made a $10,000 to the Santa Claus Fund to end the evening.
Hatter Rob Wallace carried on his annual tradition. He has been in attendance every year since the auction’s establishment and is known by his nickname as the “Teddy Bear King,” due to his tradition of bidding on teddy bears, which he then donates to Medicine Hat’s Ronald McDonald House.
It’s all part of an effort to provide the community and those in need a better Christmas. Doerksen says the auction was a success but with donations being down significantly, they are looking for more support.
“Historically the auction has generated enough funds to cover our grocery vouchers and it was half of our grocery vouchers to date,” Doerksen said.”So we’re still looking for support from our community.”
To date they have served 636 families, 1,065 children and have provided for 1,832 family members, while distributing $81,375 in grocery vouchers. They concluded their intake last week but are available for crisis assistance and will be open next week, with 35 families still scheduled to be served.
Looking at her numbers of families helped and knowing how many more still need assistance, Doerksen says it re-establishes the ever-growing need in the community for assistance.
“We anticipated that dollars were going to be down because it just stands to reason that a year when grocery prices are so high, donations are down, and the families needing our services are great still,” Doerksen said. “There is a lot of need in our community right now.”
Anyone interested in donating or volunteering with the Medicine Hat News Santa Claus Fund should visit mhsantafund.com.