Every year, an army of volunteers collects at Forts Folle Avoine to help create a magical environment for their holiday celebration event, “Christmas at the Forts”. It’s a wonderful place to share some Christmas cheer with a child!
The work that goes on behind the scenes for this event isn’t just for children during the holidays. The volunteers who give their time, energy and resources to make it all happen, work for weeks in advance to prepare for the Silent Auction. It’s their biggest fund raiser of the year, which goes on throughout the duration of the event, and ultimately helps children all year around.
CENTURY 21 agent, Cathy Schmidt is among the volunteers and described the scene from a “before and after” perspective. They begin with a mountain of donated items from businesses and individuals, along with a small pool of money to create dozens and dozens of gift baskets and gift items – ready for giving at Christmas time, that are bid on and sold at the Silent Auction. The random items they receive as donations run the gamut from bottles of alcohol to branded sportswear to gift cards for local businesses. It’s the job of the volunteers to sift through the bounty and create themed baskets of goodies and gift packages that will catch the eyes of those who come to the event.
The Silent Auction room is arranged by theme so you can keep your focus as you bid on items. Got kids on your list? No problem. Need one last thing for a gentleman on your list? Check. Looking for a few good reads for yourself? Got it! They also have an area that is exclusively gift cards (over 90 were donated this year), if that’s what you’re after. But be sure to look closely at all the arranged items for display throughout the auction room. There are gift cards tucked into some of those as well!
The money raised at the Silent Auction allows the Forts to keep its gate open to visitors throughout their season. Among those who visit each year are 3-4,000 school children as a supplement to their classroom learning – some from as far away as St. Paul. Part of the classroom curriculum requirements for 4th graders includes State History. What better way for the kids to learn about History than to witness and experience things in person, right here on the Yellow River at the Forts?
If the old saying is true, that Christmas is for kids, one way to do something special for children this Christmas is to help make the Silent Auction a bountiful success! – Wanda Boldon