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Church auction helps change lives

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By The Staff

Local painter Betty Nance Smith will dabble in the construction business this weekend.

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Smith goes above and beyond the call of duty by donating remarkable paintings to the youth of the United Church of Los Alamos to raise funds for home building in Mexico.

The annual auction to benefit the Mexico Mission project will feature almost 200 items in a silent auction. Residents can wander through rows of tables to bid on everything from new and used, to handy and oddly fascinating. There will be a live auction as well.

A variety of businesses donated items ranging from restaurant and barbershop gift certificates to jewelry and furniture. Some of those businesses include donations from the Hilltop House Spa, Los Alamos Monitor, Buffalo Tours, Holiday Inn Express, KRSN AM 1490 and more.

A variety of donations come from congregation members in an effort to support their youth in the many weeks of legwork that lead up to the build. Phil and Barbara Seegar will add some class this weekend, with two pairs of tickets to the Santa Fe Opera.

The Seegars have provided the auction with seats to two performances this year – “The Magic Flute” and “Madame Butterfly.”

The spring break campers always extend themselves by offering their own services to fill the coffers and their toolboxes prior to departure. This year, attendees will have a chance to bid on yardwork, gourmet meals, a pony party, jewelry-making party, cookie of the month, a 1/2 hour piano program and a variety of other teenage triumphs.

“Our high school youth organizing the auction come from all facets of life at LAHS. We have musicians, athletes, seniors and freshmen, as well as those with building experience and others with no experience driving a nail. Their common bond is the desire to help others in need,” Youth Pastor Keith Lewis said.

The benefit of the silent and live auction is the ability to purchase items that can be used as gifts throughout the year. These items include; Nambé Ware, shop tools, jewelry, decorative pieces, furniture and quilted and knitted delights.

The $12,000 goal, in both sales and donations from the auction, will help Amor Ministries have the building materials on the ground and ready when the camper/builders arrive during spring break. AMOR Ministries also provides the United Church contingent to find the lucky families and prioritize the building projects.

“It's amazing to think that this will be the 25th annual youth trip,” said Laura Erickson, who along with husband Randy, are responsible for a large portion of the project. “When we started, we knew we just wanted to do something for people less fortunate than ourselves. We didn't plan to still be going strong 25 years later.”

The Ericksons, along with seven alumni, who don't regularly travel with the project, are returning for their 25th anniversary. In addition to the alumni, another 55 adults and youth will hook on their toolbelts for the life-changing week.

The team will build houses for three families in Puerto Peñasco, Sonora. The homes are 11-feet by 22-feet, with a concrete floor, frame walls with stucco and a plywood roof. The houses they build during their mini extreme home makeover are often replacing ones made of scrap lumber, shipping pallets and cardboard with tarps covering the roof.

Community members can  support the youth, even with a small cash donation. 100 percent of the funds raised benefit the project.

”I am always proud of the kids we take on our trip. They are generous to a fault, compassionate and attentive to the needs of others,” said Lewis. “Although language can sometimes be a barrier, the language of caring is universal. I am most proud of our kids because they care.” The United Church is located at 2525 Canyon Road. The silent auction and live auction preview begins at 2 p.m. Sunday followed by a live auction at 3 p.m. Additional information is available at 662-2971.