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Christmas Tree Gala To Fund Books For Students
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Budget cutbacks have affected school districts throughout the state. Smaller districts have been especially vulnerable because of smaller operating budgets, but the Valley Home Parent Teacher Club (VHPTC) has come up with a creative way to raise some extra funds needed for the school.

The group is holding a Christmas Tree Gala fundraiser from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 4 at the Gene Bianchi Community Center in Oakdale. There will be silent and live auctions, as well as 10 fully decorated Christmas trees with gifts underneath included.

“We’re trying to buy books right now for our kids. That’s the big thing we’re working toward,” said VHPTC vice president Jenny Liekhus, adding that state cutbacks have really affected the school.

She said that the new schoolbooks cost about $5,000 and anything raised above that amount will go toward other educational needs or special assemblies for Valley Home students.

Also of note, three tables of eight have been paid for by donors from out of the area to allow for seating of veteran families as well as Red Cross and community volunteers.

“I want to fill those…tables with exceptional community leaders and volunteers and also with recently back soldiers from Iraq or Afghanistan that are in your community,” said one donor.

Liekhus reported that those tables are nearly filled at this point.

The auction and trees include items that have been donated by local businesses and families. There will be one tree in the live auction, a 10-feet tall tree with outdoor theme decorations. The gifts under the tree include an eight-foot personal pontoon boat, tent, camp chairs, barbecue smoker, ice chest, sleeping bags, s’mores kit, hunting book, sled, and more.

The raffle will include nine full-size (approximately six feet tall), theme-decorated Christmas trees. One example is the colorfully decorated, candy-theme tree. It will have an ice cream maker, chocolate fountain, waffle cone maker, cupcake stand, and more under its boughs.

Other theme trees include: Dazzling Harvest, American Soldier’s Christmas, Christmas on the Ranch (western), Hollywood Lights (movie), Snow Day, Memories of Christmas Past (Victorian), Leather and Lace (leather craftsman tree), and Fun in the Sun.

Liekhus and her sister Kate Cross had been involved in a similar fundraiser previously in Southern California and thought that the idea would work well for the VHPTC. Liekhus said that the VHPTC members have been working on the event since April. She also said that if the event is successful, they will plan to hold it annually. Pre-purchased tickets are advised and the attire is from casual to cocktail.

Tickets are $30 each and include two drink tickets, an appetizer and dessert buffet, $10 worth of raffle tickets, music, and dancing. For tickets or information, contact Jenny Liekhus at (209) 847-4079.