irish-christmasBy Jennie Acklin

It was an evening of Christmas spirit to be remembered for many seasons to come. Bob McCarthy’s Irish Christmas fundraiser will only be truly appreciated by those who were there last Friday evening at the Gin Mill. It’s just too hard to believe that pies, albeit “celebrity pies,” were awarded to top bidders of $475, $450, $375, $325 and so on. The generous people in attendance were in rare form, not to be outbid by their friends and neighbors.

McCarthy commented, “When I first told everyone that I wanted to do a pie auction at the annual Irish Christmas event, they laughed at me. That was about five years ago. Nobody’s going to bid on a pie!”

Well, true to McCarthy’s style, he forged ahead with his idea, soliciting homemade pies from several friends and showed the naysayers.

At this year’s pie auction vver $1,200 was raised with the top three pie bids alone. A total of 10 pies were auctioned, along with several handmade Irish pie chests, walking sticks, woven scarves and hats, raffle tickets and 50/50 tickets. Over $7,000 was donated to Santa’s Workshop, along with a wagonload of Christmas gifts. Outstanding!

The good will of the evening was met with laughter and devilish fun. The crowd was in a terrific mood, cheering for higher bids, all knowing that it went to a good cause. McCarthy frequently reminded everyone that all the money raised stayed here — for LOCAL children and families in need. Most people who know McCarthy know that he has a soft spot for children, and the thought of a needy child going without a Christmas gift is unimaginable to him.

Santa’s Workshop is a confidential program by Family Support of Ellicottville, which is an affiliate of the Rotary Foundation for Youth, helping families who need a little financial help during the Christmas season. Families can choose gifts for each other and take home the fixings for a Christmas dinner. Remaining proceeds from the Irish Christmas fundraiser will be deposited into the Family Support for Ellicottville’s general fund to support local families in need through the holiday season and beyond.

Family Support of Ellicottville pledges to keep 100 percent of all monies donated in the Ellicottville community. It is a 501(c)(3) charitable foundation, so your donation is always tax deductible. You can always send your donation anytime of the year to Family Support of Ellicottville, P.O. Box 101, Ellicottville, NY 14731.

McCarthy also introduced Kate Butterfield, a local writer and artist who has been developing a series of children’s books. Together they will be hosting “Celtic Thunder,” a fundraiser scheduled for March 7, 2014, to be held at the Ellicottville Town Center, to help raise fund for the printing of another book dedicated to  children dealing with cancer. It promises to be another memorable evening, with live music by the outrageous Irish band, the Leftovers, wine donated by Shannon Carscallen of E-Ville Spirits, roast beef sandwiches donated by Ken and Annette Auteri of Dom’s Butcher Block, desserts by Katy Arena of Katy’s Cafe’ and Cake Creations, and many other surprises. Stay tuned to the Ellicottville Times for more details — tickets will go on sale soon.

Irish Christmas was truly a night of generosity and Christmas spirit by all who attended. It’s what makes Ellicottville one of the greatest places to call home or to visit often.