Bidders be ready: The Santa Fund virtual auction kicks off at noon Monday.
Gift baskets include baking, barbecue, golf and made-in-New-Hampshire themes. The stockpile also features spa getaways, restaurant gift cards and a motorized pool lounger that will have you pining for summer.
The Union Leader Santa Fund has supported the Salvation Army for more than 60 years. Money raised provides clothing, meals and toys for local families during the holidays, as well as support for Kids’ Café, summer camps and other programs.
The online auction — at www.unionleader.com/santafund — replaces the silent auction that traditionally has been a feature of the annual in-person kickoff luncheon. It runs through Dec. 10.
While Santa Fund patrons may have been missing the luncheon over the past couple of years, the online format is better suited for bidding, says Emily Candib, who has been organizing the auction for more than a decade at Merchants Fleet, a longtime supporter of the Salvation Army and the Santa Fund.
Online bidding is more competitive than during the luncheon, when people are trying to balance socializing with checking the auction tables to see if they have been outbid, she said.
“You’re bidding and you’re seeing people and trying to catch up,” said Candib, director of operational solutions for the Hooksett company. “With the online format, people are able to keep an eye on those items that they’re really interested in.”
The auction items, which have been donated from area businesses, are stashed in Candib’s office at Merchants Fleet’s headquarters, where they will be available for pickup after the auction.
New companies donating items this year include Paquette Pools & Spas in Hooksett, which provided the inflatable pool lounger, and Mallory Portrait in Portsmouth, which is offering a keepsake painting.
“They would bring the auction winner in for a family photography session. And they turn the photo that is chosen by the winning bidder into a realist portrait,” Candib said.
The portrait session is among the items Candib says are primed for Christmas gift giving. Also on that list is a gift basket filled with art supplies designed for children.
“Some of the items are really good as gifts for the holidays, such as for hostess gifts,” she said.