Last week we introduced a brand new event in our region called the Midcoast Tree Auction that is happening online from Dec. 4-12. This event is a fundraiser for three local organizations: All Saints Parish (St. John’s), Meals on Wheels (Spectrum Generations) and the Southern Midcoast Maine Chamber (of which, I’m the executive director). These same three organizations combined to create the Midcoast Tree Festival which we decided to postpone due to COVID-19. The Midcoast Tree Auction is replacing the Festival this year, with several of the same businesses supporting this event.

So what is the auction? The Midcoast Tree Auction is a 100% online auction that begins at noon on Friday Dec. 4, and we need you to help us spread the word so everyone knows about it. We’re expecting anywhere from 30-70 auction lots of varying values.

What’s an auction lot? Typically it refers to a collection of items you can win. For example, a gift card, pint glass and t-shirt from a restaurant could be the items in Auction Lot #1, and if you win Auction Lot #1 you win all of those items (that is just an example). In our festival, we have three types of Auction Lots: Deluxe, Classic and Wreaths.

Deluxe auction lots are larger bundles of items (with “larger” meaning either many items or more valuable items). Classic auction lots are smaller bundles of items, and wreaths are wreaths. The majority of our auction lots will contain multiple items. Also, we require having a ‘tree or a depiction of a tree’ in every classic or deluxe lot to re-emphasize it being a tree auction. Wreaths might not have a tree included, but hey, you’re getting a wreath.

So how does it work? The Midcoast Tree Festival team is running this event, so look for updates on our heavily-followed Midcoast Tree Festival Facebook page (at facebook.com/MidcoastTreeFestival ). You can also get event information on the Chamber’s website at midcoastmaine.com. Though the auction doesn’t start until next Friday, we expect the MTF Facebook page will highlight some of the items leading up to it.

If you want to see, or bookmark, the actual auction site, go to charityauction.bid/MidcoastTreeAuction This website will also be listed on the MTF Facebook page and Chamber website in case you need it. Bidding will not begin until noon on Dec. 4 and it will close on Dec. 12 at 9 p.m.

Here’s something really important: there are hardly any items listed on the auction site yet, but trust us there will be. We have 15-20 commitments already with at least that many businesses considering donations. When a business donates we need to get a full list of the items with values, coordinate pickup/delivery of the items, and post the pictures of the items. All of that takes a lot of time. Our deadline for receiving items

from donors is Dec. 2, so you’ll begin to see a tremendous amount of updates from Dec. 2 through when the auction begins. Some businesses are getting us their items sooner, but most items won’t get posted until then.

Once the auction begins, you will be able to place bids on the auction site run by Auctria. Each auction lot has an opening bid which is a minimum. Opening bids will start at approximately 40% of total value, meaning a bundle of two $50 gift cards, valued at $100 dollars, will start at $40.

There are a few other really unique pieces of this event I want you to know about too. The first piece is about the wreaths which are donated by non-profit organizations. This year, we want to split the proceeds 50/50 with the donating non-profit organization for their wreath. Meaning, when the Brunswick Downtown Association donates a wreath, whatever that amount of the winning bid, we will split with the BDA that amount. So if it goes for $60, the auction committee gets $30, and the BDA will get a check for $30. If it goes for $200, then we each get $100. In this way, we’re hoping to give a little something back to some of our local non-profits this holiday season.

Another great aspect is our Secret Santa program. This came about because when we had the tree festival, the winning person was the holder of a 50 cent raffle ticket. With this auction, the winner is the highest bid. With that change, and wanting to help as many people as we can, we realized some bidders may not need every item in their auction lot. Winning bidders are entitled to all of the items they won, of course, but if there were some items in their lot that they wanted to donate to local organizations, individuals or schools, our committee will coordinate those deliveries on the week of Dec. 14. We could even mail them if there was a bidder not from around here. We can coordinate the donation in the name of the winning bidder, or keep it anonymous (hence the Secret Santa name).

How can you help? Spread the word. Share our posts from the Midcoast Tree Festival page. Share this column with friends. Share the auction website link. Discuss it with your relatives over Thanksgiving, whether they’re across the table or around the globe.

Also, non-profits who want to sign up to donate a wreath, and fundraise for your organization, let me know. Businesses who want to donate an item- or an experience- or several items, let me know. Citizens who want to get into the spirit of giving and support our local businesses, feel free to patronize the businesses you love and then donate the items you buy to our auction. Or create a wreath to donate. Or bid on items.

I’ll coordinate all donations. The best way to contact me is by calling (207) 725-8797 or e-mailing [email protected] by Dec. 2, (FYI I’m taking Friday off, but leave a message for Monday). Happy Thanksgiving!

Cory King is the executive director of the Southern Midcoast Maine Chamber.

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