Helping Hands for the Holidays: Aubuchon to host annual fundraising celebration
An annual holiday celebration next week will help raise funds for a handful of local charities.
The 19th annual Helping Hands for the Holidays will take place on Monday from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the Team Aubuchon corporate office. Hosted by the Aubuchon Team of Companies, it will feature a Christmas tree lighting ceremony, a visit from Santa Claus, complimentary food and drinks, and more.
“We really believe in giving back to the community,” Diane VanArsdale, marketing director for the Aubuchon Team of Companies, said. “It’s just the foundation of who we are, and it’s been instilled in every team member that works here – it’s an important piece of who we are, it’s one of our values.”
The proceeds will benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Southern Florida, the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Southwest Florida and the Lee Building Industry Association’s Builders Care.
“It has been a tradition of ours to work with these three charities,” she said.
VanArsdale noted that the fundraiser aimed to benefit children when it was first created.
“The Ronald McDonald House helps families have a home-away-from-home while their children are receiving treatment, and Make-A-Wish grants the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions,” she said.
Last year, approximately $36,000 was raised, with each charity receiving $12,000.
“We split that in thirds,” VanArsdale said.
About 300 people attend every year.
“This has kind of turned into the community Christmas kickoff party,” she said. “For 19 years, people in the Cape and the surrounding areas have been attending this or have heard about it.”
The event is free and open to the public; however, donations are accepted.
“When people get here, a lot of them already know it’s a fundraiser,” VanArsdale said. “Those that don’t know it’s a fundraiser are usually moved to donate once they get here.”
President Gary Aubuchon typically announces a challenge at some point during the evening.
“Like he’ll match any donation for a certain timeframe up to a certain amount,” she said.
Representatives from each of the charities will be on hand to answer questions.
At 6 p.m., the tree lighting will take place.
“It is a Rockefeller Pine and it’s 15 feet tall,” VanArsdale said, adding that the tree is decorated with hundreds of lights and jumbo-sized ornaments. “It definitely has an impact when you walk in.”
Santa will be available to take pictures and listen to Christmas lists from 6 to 7:30 p.m.
She noted that parents should make sure to bring their camera or cell phone.
For the first time, a photo booth with holiday props will be on site.
“It’s complimentary,” VanArsdale said. “I know they get at least one photo to keep.”
A deejay will entertain with live music.
“More of a festive party atmosphere,” she said.
There will also be a guest appearance by the Chick-fil-a Christmas cow.
Fourteen restaurants are donating food, including Big Blue Brewing, Overtime Pizzeria & Sports Pub, Ceno Grille, Rumrunners, Lobster Lady Seafood Market and Nevermind Awesome Bar & Eatery.
VanArsdale noted that Bubba’s Roadhouse & Saloon has taken part in the event for years.
“They cook at least 100 pounds of chicken,” she said. “And the Lighthouse (Restaurant) brings pasta for 200 people.”
Beer, wine and soft drinks will also be available.
The community is invited to come out.
“It’s a lot of fun, it’s a great family atmosphere,” VanArsdale said. “You’ll get a chance to learn about these three charities and, hopefully, have a great night to kick off the holidays.”
For more information, call 239-542-1075 or visit www.teamaubuchon.com.
Those who want to donate but are unable to attend can do so online.
The Team Aubuchon main office is at 4707 S.E. Ninth Place.