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Christmas tree auction raises money for local clinic

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NEW PORT RICHEY — Dozens of trees, decked out in various themes and colored lights, lined the inside of the Verizon Event Center last week as the Good Samaritan Health Clinic of West Pasco ushered in the holiday season with its 2013 “Festival of Trees” fundraiser for the clinic.

More than 40 local businesses and sponsors adopted the faux pine trees of various sizes, donated by Lowes. They then decorated them in the theme of their choosing, which ranged from classic Christmas motiffs to real candy and cookie ornaments, the familiar blue and orange of the University of Florida and even a redneck-themed tree with bottle cap and soda tab garlands, chewing tobacco tin ornaments and monster trucks.

The trees were auctioned off at the end of the week. Most had a starting bid of $20 or the “Buy It Now” option, about $400. The proceeds go to the clinic, a nonprofit organization run by volunteers that helps about 3,500 low-income Pasco residents a year with medical and dental needs.

“An army of folks in the community support this event and our patients every year,” said Melissa Fahy, the clinic’s executive director. “It also kicks off the holiday season.”

During the “Friends and Family Night” Tuesday, Nov. 19, the Festival of Trees was free and open to the public to begin placing silent bids. Performances by local schools and an “Elf on the Shelf” contest entertained patrons while they looked at trees and a candy bar set off to the side catered to every sweet tooth.

The live auction was held on Friday, Nov. 22, and patrons had to purchase $25 tickets to attend. Although the results have not yet been fully calculated, Fahy said, she estimates that the net profit is around $18,000. Since this year’s overhead was low, she hopes the gross profit totals to more than $10,000, which is what the clinic raised at last year’s event.

For more information on the God Samaritan Clinic of West Pasco, at 5334 Aspen St., New Port Richey, visit www. http://goodsamclinic.org/.

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