Spirited crowd raises thousands for college students at wreaths auction

Mermaids comb their hair in nests of shells and pearls in the wreath donated by the Ernie Reid Bookstore at Copper Mountain College.

JOSHUA TREE — The bids flew fast and furious at the 10th annual Festival of Wreaths Sunday and in the end, the foundation that helps Copper Mountain College students pay for tuition, food and bus rides came away $13,841 richer.

Nearly 150 people filled the college Bell Center’s Community Room to bid on wreaths and desserts, CMC Foundation Executive Director Sandy Smith said.

A bar donated by James and Cathy Larson brought in $854, providing sodas and what auctioneer Dan Letourneau called “lubrication” — wine, beer and spirits, including Jell-O Shots to help keep the good times rolling.

The centerpiece of the annual auction is the wreaths; this year there were 19 of them, dripping with ornaments and gift certificates. The auction alone raised $8,720 this year. It started with the Twentynine Palms Soroptimists’ wreath and swag in plum hues, which came with a turquoise jewelry set and $125 in gift cards.

Other wreaths included Linda Hale’s pink-hued creation, which came with a bottle of Champagne, two iridescent glasses and a $200 gift certificate from Trophy Express; and the snowman-and-berries wreath from the Baileys of Twentynine Palms, which came with a basket filled with jewelry, art and smog certificates from Bailey’s Auto Repair.

The Beauty Bubble wreath from Jeff Hafler was a fiber-optic rainbow that came with a certificate for a cut and color at Hafler’s Joshua Tree salon and a bracelet and earrings from his husband, jeweler Mikal Winn.

Tortoise Rock Casino’s wreath won the people’s choice award. This fall-themed wreath was adorned with show tickets, buffets, Tipsy Tortoise highball glasses and poker chips.

Bob Tenbrook and Yucca Auto Body made the most money for Copper Mountain College with his work of automotive art — a sleek pink and chrome circle crafted from the steering wheel of a classic Cadillac. When the bidding stalled around $500, Tenbrook offered to buy his own wreath for $1,000. A Cadillac ornament he made went for $235 for a total of $1,235 total.

Donated by Grocery Outlet and Let’s Feast catering, a wreath composed of corks got the highest bid at $700. It came with a case of wine and dinner for six.

Midway through the auction, Letourneau took a break while Kim Ortamond of Twentynine Palms took over the microphone to run the dessert auction.

Offering creations like peanut butter chocolate and raspberry white chocolate cheesecakes made by Chuck Uyeda and cupcakes decorated with lifelike frosting succulents like Lisa Briggs, the dessert auction raised $1,083.

Lining a wall in the Bell Center, more wreaths offered in a silent auction brought in $1,026.

Former CMC Superintendent Roger Wagner and wife Stacy Wagner returned to Joshua Tree with a donation of a wreath featuring Santa himself. Offered in an auction, the wreath raised $691.

Profits from the Festival of Wreaths will ornament the foundation’s support programs for students. In the 2018-19 fiscal year, the CMC Foundation subsidized 29,465 bus rides and paid for 7,939 hot meals for students. It has partnered with Kaiser Permanente to get a $10,000 grant to train employees and students in mental health first aid. The foundation provided $167,755 in scholarships and oversaw $25,000 in STEM scholarships from Southern California Edison.

It also furnished several offices, the veterans’ center, classrooms and the athletic training room.

For more information on the CMC Foundation, call (760) 366-3791, ext. 5012.

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