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Holiday fund-raiser draws crowd

By Staff | Nov 24, 2008

MICHAEL PISTELLA At left, Mike Bolebruch of Florida Gulf Coast Construction talks to Jimmy Aubuchon, center, during Team Aubuchon’s Helping Hands for the Holidays fund-raiser Monday.

The lights dimmed, the anticipation mounted, the countdown began — as the Christmas tree was lit and applause filled the lobby of the Team Aubuchon building in Club Square, a familiar face with a long white beard and red suit made an appearance on the top floor and waved to kids below, much to their delight.

The arrival of Santa Claus unofficially marked the start of the holiday season, as Team Aubuchon threw its 10th annual “Helping Hands for Holiday” fund-raiser, a decade-long tradition for one of the Cape Coral’s most successful real estate developers.

This year’s event raised money for three non-profit organizations, Ronald McDonald House, Make-A-Wish Foundation and Builder’s Care, who provide no-cost emergency home repair and renovation services to needy elderly, disabled and economically disadvantaged homeowners.

“What started as an idea blossomed into an annual event. Over the years we’ve donated tens of thousands of dollars (to local charities),” said Gary Aubuchon.

Aubuchon went on to praise the Cape as a whole, calling it the “biggest small town” that rallies together to aid those in the community who are in need.

Given the economy, Aubuchon doubted fund-raising totals would match that of previous years, but he said that would not take away from the spirit of the fund-raiser or the holidays.

“We may not set a record but it has not dampened the spirit of the community,” he said. “We’re not just helping children here, we’re helping children in need.”

The entirety of Team Aubuchon’s building was transformed into a nest of holiday cheer, with multiple food stations scattered throughout the multilevel structure.

Adult beverages and desserts were downstairs, while upstairs was inundated with a virtual buffet, with restaurants including Manga Bene, Houhlihan’s, Twisted Conch and Bubba’s Roadhouse and Saloon all donating food and services for the occasion.

Organizer Diane VanArsdale was surprised at the high turnout. Only an hour into the event, which ran from 5:30-7:30 p.m., the entire building was packed on both floors.

“This is triple the turnout from last year,” she said. “I see some new faces here … we all support each other in the community.”

For more information on the fund-raiser, call Team Aubuchon at 542-1075.