Supporting Boy Scout auction becomes holiday tradition for Utah family

Published: Saturday, Dec. 1 2012 4:33 p.m. MST

Image from 2012 Boy Scout encampment outside Spokane, Washington. This year's Great Salt Lake Scouting holiday fundraiser will run from 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Friday, Dec. 7, at the South Towne Exposition Center, 9575 S. State.

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SANDY — For the past 22 years, Don Christensen and his family have spent the day after Thanksgiving buying almost everything they can get their hands on.

But the Christensen family doesn't spend Black Fridays buying Christmas presents for each other. They're buying items for the annual Great Salt Lake Council Boy Scout auction.

"We feel like it is something that helps youth and helps them to develop into good young men," said Jolene Dew, Christensen's daughter. "We feel really strongly about the auction, about Scouting, which is why, of course, we do the auction."

This year's Great Salt Lake Scouting holiday fundraiser will run from 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Friday, Dec. 7, at the South Towne Exposition Center, 9575 S. State. Tickets are $50 each or $1,500 for a corporate table.

Don Bean, senior development director for the Great Salt Lake Council, said this year's auction likely will raise about $150,000, with around 600 people in attendance.

"We used to make about $15,000 and thought that was really good, … but now they are making a lot more than that," said Arda Jean Christensen, Don's wife.

When Don Christensen started the auction, it was small and only items that were donated by businesses were auctioned off, he said.

"I used to go out to the lumber yards and get them to donate stuff, and then I started to go to places that were going out of business," the Millcreek resident said. "But the problem with that was they were trying to sell stuff that nobody wanted."

Don Christensen started sending his children and grandchildren to Black Friday sales and then donating those items to the auction.

"We get a lot of cookware," Dew said. "A lot of electronics, suitcases — they love those."

And then there's toys, she said. Lots and lots of toys.

"We try to get the biggest stuffed animals we can get," Dew said.

But the family doesn't stop there.

"Then (Don Christensen) comes to the auction and buys half the stuff again," Bean said.

When the grandchildren go out shopping, they shop with the idea that they are going to buy it.

"From the beginning, we have always taken all of our kids and grandkids to the auction to buy back the stuff that we donated," Arda Jean Christensen said.

The annual auction has become so much a part of the Christensen family's holiday tradition that those who have moved away travel back for it.

"We have family that flies in from the East Coast for this," Dew said. "We have some coming from Virginia this year for the auction. It is a big deal for our family."

Family members said they choose to donate to the Boy Scouts of America because it helps young men.

"One of the good things that we do in the U.S. is Scouting — well, the world," Don Christensen said. "A kid that gets an Eagle, it makes them want to live a better life."

The annual holiday auction is the Great Salt Lake Council's largest fundraising event. The council's budget for 2012 is nearly $7.2 million.

For more information about the Great Salt Lake Council, visit www.gslc-bsa.org.

Twitter: @FinleyJY

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