On Thursday, December 8, the picturesque Cabrillo Arts Pavillion was turned into a festive holiday party scene for the 23rd annual Santa Barbara Association of Realtors (SBAOR) Unity Shoppe Auction.
KEYT’s John Palminteri, the event’s emcee and auctioneer, entertained the guests and enticed them to bid on silent and live auction items. Superb background music was provided by Unity Shoppe’s Executive Director Tom Reed and the Tearaways’ David Hekhouse. The event also featured a lovely holiday song performance by the Santa Barbara High School Madrigal Singers. C’est Cheese provided abundant hors-d’oeuvres to accompany wine and other beverages.
A preliminary tally indicates that the auction raised more than $50,000. SBAOR Unity Shoppe Committee Chair Alyson Spann remarked how “it is gratifying to know that this will help many who need food, clothing, or toys for kids this holiday season.”
In past years, the auction was confined to the event, but this year SBAOR introduced an extensive online auction preceding the event. It also changed the event from a morning one to one taking place in the late afternoon and early evening hours. Realtors, professionals in related fields, and the general public were all invited to join the party and help raise funds for Unity Shoppe.
Unity Shoppe, which is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year, provides food, clothing, household items and school supplies to individuals referred from 300 agencies. By providing a central distribution facility, Unity eliminates duplication of services. Parents and children shop in a pleasant environment, rather than receiving a handout of pre-selected items. This allows clients to get what they need while maintaining their dignity, and the system avoids waste. So far this year, Unity has served nearly 20,000 people, with another 2,000 expected through the end of the year.
For the holidays, Unity provides a well-stocked, cheerful store for parents and children to select toys, games, and books. Most are donated by Toys for Tots and other toy runs, the remainder are purchased at 10 percent of retail cost. All holiday items are new, the clothing and household and school supplies provided the rest of the year are a mix of new and gently-used items. Unity operates with a lean staff of 17 and nearly 1,800 volunteers. Each year, more than $2 million in food and merchandise is distributed.
Unity’s Job Smart Program provides resume assistance, training through its volunteer program, and work clothing. Its Disaster Services Program provides a multitude of needed items to disaster victims. Unity’s core demographic is the working poor and seniors, though it provides assistance to the homeless in transition, such as those at Transition House and those in the Santa Barbara Rescue Mission’s treatment program.
For more information about Unity Shoppe, go to unityshoppe.org.
For more information about the Santa Barbara Association of Realtors, go to sbaor.org.
Send event invites to Gail at email@example.com.