Christmas in April Delivers the Gift of Home

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The auction held on Friday, March 2 to benefit the Christmas in April chapter of St. Mary’s County successfully continued an annual College tradition for the seventeenth year. Christmas in April is a nationwide organization that renovates homes for families in need, and the St. Mary’s chapter has been active  for nineteen years.

“Christmas in April” was named such because the actual home rebuilding occurs in April, whereas most of the fundraising occurs in the preceding months. This is especially true of the recent auction, which raised a grand total of $15,482 for the build which will happen on Saturday, April 28.

“Auctioneers” Assistant Vice President for Academic Services Lenny Howard and senior Josh Olexa presided over an audience consisting mostly of students and staff who gathered in Montgomery Hall 25 to place bids on items donated by various offices on campus. Such items included a Survival Pack from International Education, a Universal Parking Pass from Public Safety, and a popcorn machine from Bon Appetit. Private performances from the popular a capella groups SMCMen, TNA, Interchorus, and 4-Play (a barbershop quartet) were also available to the bidders, who were treated to SMCMen and 4-Play performances at the auction itself.

However, the most expensive bids were made on the multiple housing opportunities donated by the Office of Residence Life. One townhouse, one eight-person suite in Waring Commons, and two singles (one male and one female) were available to be bid on at the event, and they brought in a large portion of the auction’s proceeds, according to Assistant Dean of Students Kelly Schroeder.

The Coordinator of Service and Social Change Sola Ogundele said the event lived up to her expectations. “It was really unfortunate that [the auction] didn’t happen last year, but it was good to see students come out and support a deserving family,” said Ogundele. “The home [that the St. Mary’s chapter is renovating] belongs to an elderly couple who have been foster parents for forty years, which makes this effort rewarding for the faculty and staff that helped put on this auction.”

According to Schroeder, last year’s auction was sidelined because the only available date for the event coincided with the play-offs of the men’s basketball team. “We simply couldn’t compete with that,” said Schroeder, “but thankfully we had enough money in our savings to honor our commitment to the build.”

This year’s fundraising results were the greatest ever, said Schroeder, as the event usually brings in about $8,000 to $9,000. “This allows us to fund the house and supplies that our volunteers, faculty, and staff are committed to,” she added, “and we even have extra money in case the organization says we need to make the house ADA [Americans with Disabilities Act] compatible or provide extra assistance.”

In spite of the auction’s success, Schroeder did find one aspect of the event worrying. “I would’ve liked to see more people attend,” she said, “as this is a pretty standard traditional event attended by students, faculty, and staff. I’m concerned that participation in this community event is dwindling, but to make up for it we raised funds above our goal contribution.”

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