By ABBY SOUZA
A year of picking berries and gathering hundreds of auction donations has paid off for the Mother Lode Christian School.
Together, all activities making up the Tuolumne school's annual Winter Jubilee, held Saturday at the Mother Lode Fairgrounds in Sonora, brought in $57,270.62 to help support both its elementary and high school programs.
Led by organizer Kerry Semsen, volunteers work year-round on the the event the school's largest fund-raiser.
They picked berries in the spring and froze them to later fill the 225 pies for sale at the jubilee on Saturday. They collected 900 silent auction and 150 live auction items to sell. All the sales at the school's two thrift stores cover operating costs for the event.
"A year of work," Semsen said, looking out over the hundreds of people attending the event. "But it's all worth it."
Semsen has been involved in the auction for all of its 23 years. She started as a volunteer, but took over the reins five years into it and hasn't looked back since.
"Every year we're amazed at the support we get," she said.
Running both the silent and live auctions, selling the food and operating the children's games takes a lot of help. This year Semsen guessed she had 100 volunteers at the event.
"And it's not only parents, but alumni parents and school alumni," Semsen said.
Volunteers, alumni parents and school alumni are also among the many who were actively bidding.
Mother Lode Christian School graduate Anisa Chauvin of Tuolumne said she has attended the auction for most of her life. This year, she bought an antique dresser in the live auction for $400.
"It's for a good cause, plus you get better deals here usually," Chauvin said.
Mother Lode Christian School was founded in 1964 by Rex and Eloise Heath, then-pastors of Standard Community Church. The school in Tuolumne serves preschool through high school children from various denominations.