The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

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November 12, 2012

It's time to auction some trees

Well, we’re down to the last five days before we will auction off all 54 of the beautifully decorated trees for the fourth annual Wonderland of Trees. So that means you need to plan your trip today to go out to the Lewis Automotive Suzuki showroom to preview the trees.

Not only can you decide which ones you may want to bid on, but also vote on the tree or trees you would like for the People’s Choice award winner.

The People’s Choice award is presented to the tree that has garnered the most votes from the fans. Votes are determined by the number of $1 donations. Additionally, the cool thing is that whenever you vote and make your donation of $1, it actually puts your name in for a drawing to win a new 40-inch flat-screen TV donated by John Eye Big Sandy.

Before you decide on what tree you want to bid on, you need to know exactly what it is you’re bidding on. What I’m talking about when I say “what you’re bidding on” is that several of the trees have lots and lots of “added value.” Added value can mean anything from tickets to a NASCAR race in Charlotte to a $300 certificate to rent a bounce house from Party King or $500 worth of Mary Kay Cosmetics. The tree decorated by the Ladies Book Club of Glade Springs actually has two Kindle reader tablets included. These are just a few of the added value items.

The actual auction will start at 5:30 on Friday, and by the end of the night, every tree will have been auctioned and have new owners. We again want to remind you that you may want to purchase a tree and donate it to a needy family or organization.

Why is all this business of trees so important? Well, when we started this whole thought process of the Wonderland of Trees, it was twofold: one, to give our community a fun way to kick off the Christmas season, and second, to use it as a fundraiser.

As a fundraiser, this one event can represent up to 8 percent of our total campaign goal, which is a significant amount!

Another great project that happened since last week was the annual Operation Food For Thought at John Eye Big Sandy. During this event, Margaret Ann O’Neal, Super Duper Sonya Cooper and Kathy St. John stand up on top of a furniture truck to challenge people to come out and donate food that will go toward re-stocking the area food banks with desperately needed items.

Thousands of items were brought in, and we are very appreciative for the efforts of everyone in our community. This is just another way that the United Way of Southern West Virginia means more to southern West Virginia than just supporting our 32 agencies.

As I close, I want to again challenge each of you to do what we talked about a couple weeks ago. The challenge was if you aren’t currently participating in a workplace campaign to please consider sending us a check for at least $25. This small contribution will go a long way for us to do something like purchase diapers or formula for a mother down on her luck and just needing to meet a basic necessity of life.

Remember to come out and be part of the Wonderland of Trees auction this Friday night and partner with us as we Live and Give United.

— United Way of Southern West Virginia 2012-2013 Campaign chair Richard Jarrell owns the two Chick-fil-A franchises in Beckley and is a member of the Raleigh County Board of Education.

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