Annual Santa Store Auction moving to Free Spirit Ranch to accommodate event’s growth

Above: Free Spirit Ranch, located just outside of Morinville on Range Road 253, will be the venue for this year’s Santa Auction in support of the Midstream Support Society’s Christmas initiatives. – photo courtesy of Cari Letourneau, Elevated Digital & Photography

by Stephen Dafoe

The Annual Santa Store Auction supporting the Midstream Support Society takes place on Saturday, Nov. 18, and organizers are looking for auction items for the fundraising event.

The annual auction has been a popular Morinville event for more than a quarter century. It is the charity’s largest revenue source to help families in need provide a Christmas experience for their children.

Once again, this year, auction proceeds will expand beyond the general mandate to provide toys and gifts for children who would otherwise not receive them.

What is new this year, is the event is moving from Coach’s Corner to the Free Spirit Ranch Event Barn, located at 56210 Range Road 253 (north on 100 Street).

“We are moving the venue this year to Spirit Ranch. We’ve been really lucky in that Gord and Renee Putnam have donated it to us at no cost,” said organizer Lisa Piche. “The reason why we are doing this is because we were outgrowing Coach’s Corner. We had about 30 people last year that we had to turn away. So, we’re hoping to have more people than the 100 we could have at Coach’s Corner.”

Not only will the venue change, but the style of the event will change slightly with a full buffet dinner and a bar with $5 drinks.

“It’s something different, plus it’s a brand new venue out[side] of Morinville, so it will be great to support them as well,” Piche said. “It’s absolutely gorgeous in there.”

But beyond the venue change and addition of a buffet dinner, the main auction portion of the evening will remain the same.

Last year’s auction raised $26,000 for the cause, including the bids, 50/50 draw, and donations. That number was $8,645 higher than the $17,355 raised in 2021.

Once again this year, auctioneer Brad Ward will take control of the live auction bids, as he has since 1996, to raise as much money as possible for the Midstream Support Society’s initiative to help families in need at Christmas.

Donations are now being accepted at iCandy Optical Ltd. in downtown Morinville or by calling Lisa Piche at 780-295-9015 or 780-292-5734. A letter will also soon go out with contact info to have donations picked up.

Initially, the auction raised funds to ensure families had something under the tree on Christmas morning. That has expanded in scope over the years. Last year, approximately $8,000 of the money raised went to help families pay utility bills. In other cases, the funds helped acquire a vacuum for one household and a toaster for another. Additional funds went to buying food to assist the Knights of Columbus in their food hamper program and targeted gifts and gift cards for families in need.

“We’re going to be buying a lot more food this year and helping the Knights of Columbus pump up those food hampers because we realize that groceries have just skyrocketed and a lot of people are struggling,” Piche said.

Forms for donations are available at the Midstream store on 101 Street. Piche said the sooner people fill out forms for those in need, the better it is, making it easier for organizers to shop for what will be required.

Piche and the Midstream hope area residents will buy tickets and tables for the upcoming event.

“I think it is something to support people that you work with, people that your kids go to school with,” Piche said. “These are people that we see every day that we may not realize are struggling. It’s really important for us all to support if we are able to.”

Tickets for the event are $40 per person and can be obtained by contacting 780-295-9015 or 780-292-5734.

Due to the full buffet dinner, the event will start at 5 p.m. on Nov. 18, with the Live Auction commencing at 7 p.m.

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