Kids benefit from Christmas Tree Auction

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— The fairgrounds exhibit hall will come alive with the sounds and smells of Christmas Sunday afternoon.

The annual Christmas Tree Auction, sponsored by the Hayden Heritage Center, begins at 1:30 p.m.

Proceeds from the auction benefit nonprofit children's organizations that decorate and display a tree in the hall.

The tree auction is one of the last of its kind in the country, said Lauretta Davidson, a Heritage Center board member who is helping to publicize the auction.

Hayden businesses and residents customarily participate in the auction, she said, but the auction welcomes bidders from Steamboat and South Routt.

"We would love to bring in more support," she said.

Nonprofit organizations involved in the auction include the Girl and Boy Scouts, Critter Club, Routt County Cattlewomen's Club, Eastern Star, Hayden Heritage Center and Destination Imagination.

Each group pays $10 to display its tree in the exhibit hall, but the return is far greater.

Businesses and individuals tend to bid high for the tree they want, Davidson said.

The hall will be open from noon to 7 p.m. Saturday to organizations to decorate their tree.

The ornaments on each of the trees express a different theme that reflects the nature of the nonprofit group, said Patti Muhme, a team manager for Destination Imagination.

Many of the groups that display their trees depend on the auction as their primary fund-raiser for the year, she added.

Hayden elementary students in Destination Imagination, an improv group that promotes creativity, spent Tuesday afternoon making decorations for their trees.

Muhme's group used its theme "Celebrating Human Creativity" for inspiration.

The fourth- and fifth-graders cut out dancers holding stars and attached them to gold strings for ornaments that acknowledged visual and performing arts, literature and music.

Destination Imagination uses the money it makes from the auction for travel and lodging expenses and materials and props for competition.

Fifth-grader Elaine Cromie said she appreciated the auction because it was the only way for nonprofit groups like hers to continue participating in activities.

"The auction is great for kids," she said. "This is how we get to go where we need to go and buy supplies and entry fees."

Organizations' creativity does not stop with Christmas trees, either. Auction-goers can cast bids for wreaths and centerpieces as well.

In another room on Tuesday afternoon, another group of children in Destination Imagination crafted ornaments for its tree.

Lana McFadden led the third- through fifth-graders in making works of arts in miniature.

The children took small reproductions of famous artwork and placed them in frames made of noodles, chickpeas, shards of pine cones and birdseed.

"We're doing this because it helps us raise money to go and to compete with other teams," fifth-grader Noah Murray said.

McFadden will also be decorating a tree that benefits the new Visual and Performing Arts Scholarship Fund.

Area businesses always reach deep into their pockets to help out nonprofits in Hayden, she added.

Trees purchased at the auction are sometimes donated, and some buyers return the trees to use the next year.

A showing of all the decorated trees begins at 1 p.m., and refreshments will also be served.

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