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Soroptimist Organization Hosts Successful Luncheon Event
The Silver Strummers served as opening entertainment for guests of the annual SIO, Soroptimist International of Oakdale, Christmas Luncheon on Wednesday, Dec. 4 at the Gene Bianchi Community Center. Photo By Teresa Hammond

Pink and sweet was what greeted guests who attended the Soroptimist International of Oakdale 2023 Sweet Christmas Holiday Luncheon on Wednesday, Dec. 4. A total of over 200 tickets were sold as community members filled the Gene Bianchi Community Center in Oakdale for the service club’s annual fundraiser.

“We have some amazing members and they come up with the ideas,” Event Organizer and SIO Member Susan Merchant said. “It is 100 percent done by all the members.”

Christmas trees filled with oversized candy, large wrapped presents adorning the stage and the Silver Strummers ukelele group providing the early entertainment greeted guests as they arrived for the event.

“We all pull together,” Merchant added. “We figure out what decorations we have, because this is a fundraising event, we try to keep things in line and in budget. We have a budget we have to follow and I’m always amazed by what they come up with.”

The organizer shared the group only rents the community center and have become known for their creative photo booth. She noted that a cow is always somewhere in the photo area as homage to the Oakdale SIO.

“So there’s always a cow hidden somewhere,” she said.

In addition to a catered luncheon, the fundraiser also featured a silent auction, as well as a live auction of sweet treats for guests to enjoy. Merchant reported it was the group’s first time hosting a live dessert auction, which brought in over $2,000 in fundraising.

“We just needed to do something new,” Merchant said. “I’ve been to them, but I’ve never done one myself. Oh my gosh, that thing went off like a firecracker. It was wonderful.”

With her daughter and fellow SIO Member Rachel Merchant at the helm as auctioneer, the desserts made by club members created quite a buzz.

Proceeds from the fundraiser benefit a number of programs including: Dream it Be it; S Club; DYW, as well as the Children’s Guardian House.

“We have a lot of projects so we need to make a lot of money,” she said.

The holiday luncheon, as successful as it was, fits right in to those fundraising plans.

“I’m very pleased,” Merchant concluded of the overall event, “but this is the thing about Soroptimist. We do have a committee, but the day before and the day of we have almost everybody in the club that can, shows up and helps out. It makes it easy. Everybody comes in and pitches in.”

For future SIO events as well as additional information on the service club, check out their SIO social media pages.

This beautifully decorated centerpiece was one of many silent auction items featured at the Soroptimist International of Oakdale Christmas Luncheon on Dec. 4. Photo By Teresa Hammond