Every year, I attend two charity fund raising auctions: the Via Ball which benefits Via Services, and the SAMA Middle Eastern Feast and Auction, sponsored by St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Saratoga, benefiting medical relief programs in Haiti, the Holy Land, and Africa.
Via is most famous for the year-round Camp Costanoan, a residential, outdoor education, recreation and learning center for children and adults with physical and/or developmental disabilities and special needs. Via was established in 1945 as the Crippled Children’s Society of Santa Clara County. This year was the 15th Annual Via Ball: a grand event held at Villa Ragusa in Campbell. People with big hearts and Silicon Valley celebrities with big wallets dress up fancy to bid at the auction, have executive chefs and master sommeliers compete for their attention, and dance after dinner. Top auction bids go to Felicia Horowitz’s annual hand-made mosaic quilt, which this year was an amazing 7,000+ piece tribute to Van Gogh’s sunflowers and by itself raised over $10,000. At this year’s Via Ball, my husband John and I bought forty pounds of dried figs (split with another family who were also bidding), our table’s flower centerpiece, and some gift certificates. I get many of my ideas for how to improve the SAMA auction from going to the Via Ball.
SAMA has been holding its annual dinner for 11 years but SAMA’s auction fundraiser is only three years old. Our SAMA committee is entirely made up of volunteers and the event is held in the St. Andrew’s Episcopal School hall. SAMA uses the same auction management software as does the Via Ball – see my 2008 review of Auction! for details. SAMA’s 2010 Middle Eastern Feast was prepared by Nina Amireh, Lucy Asfour, and Andrew Bate plus an energetic crew of volunteers from St. Andrew’s youth group. Entertainment was provided by Gregangelo and Velocity Arts and Entertainment, a whirling dervish.
Each year, the most popular SAMA auction items are in the food and wine category, with the Willow Glen Caboose Brunch and Nina’s “Middle Eastern Dinner for 8” getting top bids in 2010. The Robert Lewis oil painting “New Vineyard, Old Manor” raised the most money of any single auction item. Our family bought a silver dish, a set of Bart Ehrman’s New Testament Lectures on CD, plus an inlaid mosaic frame and chessboard made by Izzat Ashkar of Syria. The entire SAMA auction raised just a few thousand dollars more than Felicia Horowitz’s quilt. SAMA supports programs such as The Four Homes of Mercy, a refuge for the severely disabled based in Jerusalem.
SAMA Auction and Middle Eastern Feast
Images Copyright 2010 by Katy Dickinson and John Plocher