By: Tom Fink | Category: In Our Communities | Issue: November 2019
Safenet Services Development Specialist Alexandra Seifried (left) and Executive Director Donna Grabow.
Now in its 15th year, Safenet Services’ annual Festival of Trees Auction & Gala will be returning to Claremore this December for another year of fun and fundraising.
This annual holiday event will be held at 6 p.m. Friday, Dec. 6 at the Will Rogers Downs Event Center in Claremore for an evening to raise funds to benefit the local domestic abuse and sexual assault shelter and prevention agency.
“This event is our biggest and best fundraiser of the year,” said Alexandra Seifried, development specialist for Safenet Services. “Last year (in 2018), we had a tremendous turnout, and we were able to raise more than $87,000 to benefit our shelter and our cause.
“This year’s goal is to raise even more and our theme for the evening will be ‘Making Spirits Bright,’” she said. “We felt this (theme) would double as it’s holiday-themed, but it’s also a subtle reminder to event attendees as to what it’s all about, that is, to help families dealing with and suffering from domestic violence.”
One of 2018’s more popular trees was this one with a “Festive Furry Friends” theme, designed by resident Andy Willis.
As in previous years, the 2019 Festival of Trees will include a dinner, live entertainment, a silent auction and a live auction, during which, one-of-a-kind Christmas and holiday trees will be on the auction block, with all proceeds raised during the evening to help those in need.
“The silent auction will start at 6 p.m., with the dinner buffet opening at 6:30 p.m.,” Seifried said. “Then at 7:30 p.m., the live auction begins, with local man Rick Reimer returning as auctioneer for the evening.
“What’s so special about our live auction is that we’re going to include 15 decorated trees, ranging from 3 feet to 9 feet in height, each of them having a different theme. This year, we’ve got a ‘Winterland’ tree, a ‘Nativity’ tree, a ‘Superhero’ tree, and a ‘Train’ tree – the kids from NTC East are going to be helping us with that one,” she continued. “All the trees are fully lit, pre-decorated, with wired-on ornaments and decorations, so if you see a tree that you like that evening, you can bid on it, and should you win it, you don’t even have to worry about sticking it in the back of your truck to take it home – we’ll wrap it up and deliver it for you the next morning, if it’s over 4.5 feet.”
In addition to the 15 trees, other items to be available for bid at auction include a wine tour, a Christmas limo light tour, two round-trip domestic flights courtesy of Southwest Airlines, and OSU basketball tickets.
“We’re very grateful to Southwest for donating those tickets – I’m sure they’ll be quite the draw for event attendees,” said Donna Grabow, Safenet Services executive director.
Also returning to this year’s Festival of Trees will be the Golden Ticket.
“I’m excited for the Golden Ticket to be coming back,” Grabow said. “We’re selling 75 tickets at $100 for a chance to pick any item off the live auction before we even start the bidding. This was very popular last year, even selling out, so we’re certain that it’s going to be a crowd-pleaser again this year.”
Drawing for the Golden Ticket will be held at 7:30 p.m., before the start of the auction, with local television personality Tess Maune slated to return this year to draw the Golden Ticket.
“Our committee is still working on adding more items to the live auction, but at present, there are 25 items available – any of which, the Golden Ticket winner would have their choice of,” she said.
Event sponsors include Win and Kay Ingersoll, Kemp Quarries, BancFirst, Rescue Heat & Air, Highfill Properties, Wastewater Solutions, RAE Corp, Bob and Cheryl Dean, Highway 66 Construction, Nees Realty, MCP Propane, Mariner Wealth Advisors and Cherokee Nation Councilwoman Janees Taylor.
But for all the fun and festivities of the evening, both Grabow and Seifried stress the importance of what it accomplishes: raising funds to aid families in need of help from Safenet Services.
“Sadly, there’s a great need for our agency in our community,” Grabow said. “Nationally, statistics show that one in for women will experience domestic violence, and Oklahoma is the sixth in the nation when it comes to domestic violence. This means that no matter who you are, domestic violence is happening to someone you know, or it could be happening to you.”
“Thankfully, we (Safenet) are here to help the victims of domestic violence in Rogers and Mayes counties,” she said.
“This (event) is an opportunity to shed light on an unfortunate problem that affects so many people, and to shine a light on who we are and some of the services we provide,” Grabow said.
In 2018, Safenet Services was able to provide 186 women and children 8,535 safe nights, 905 clients received counseling or attended group classes, and 3,572 calls were made to Safenet’s 24-hour crisis line.
To preview items for the live auction and to buy tickets, visit bidpal.net/festivaloftrees19. Tickets are now on sale for $50 before the event and $65 at the door. Golden Tickets are in limited supply and available for purchase at the Safenet Services offices in Claremore.
For ticket or sponsorship information, contact Safenet at 918-341-1424 or visit them in person at 1219 West Dupont in Claremore. For more information on the services provided by Safenet Services, visit SafenetServices.org.
Last year’s Festival of Trees event saw a packed house and raised more than $87,000 by night’s end to benefit victims of domestic violence.
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