They had more fun and raised more funds than expected.
Mendenhall Auto Center’s gingerbread house contest raised about $11,000 for local nonprofits. Ten businesses built gingerbread structures that people voted on by placing cash donations in jars next to the buildings inside the auto center’s showrooms. Each business chose a Juneau nonprofit to benefit from the money received during voting.
“We certainly exceeded our own expectations,” said Steve Allwine, co-owner of Mendenhall Auto Center. “That’s the way things tend to go in Juneau. That’s the way we do things here. We give.”
Allwine said the goal was to do something fun and seasonal and maybe raise a few thousand dollars for a good cause. He attributed the fundraiser’s success to buy-in from local businesses.
“From our perspective, we came up with the idea and sprung it on them a week beforehand, and they said, ‘We’ll play,’” Allwine said. “They did one heck of a job.”
Coeur Alaska’s display supported Family Promise, Elgee Rehfeld LLC supported St. Vincent de Paul, Jensen Yorba Lott supported Southeast Foodbank, AEL&P supported Aiding Women in Abuse and Rape Emergencies (AWARE), Alaska Marine Lines supported Gastineau Humane Society, Pavitt Health & Fitness supported Southeast Alaska Independent Living (SAIL), Western Auto-Marine supported Hospice & Home Care of Juneau, Northrim Bank supported Big Brothers Big Sisters, GCI supported United Way of Southeast Alaska and Ron’s Apothecary supported Cancer Connection.
Displays included depictions of the Alaska Capitol, reproductions of local businesses and a wide variety of baked-goods landscapes.
Western Auto-Marine was the top fundraiser with nearly $2,800 raised during the voting process, Allwine said.
That triggered an additional $2,500 donation from Mendenhall Auto Center as a prize for taking first place.
As a cherry on top, all 10 of the gingerbread structures were auctioned off Wednesday afternoon for an additional boost to the fundraising.
Allwine said the buildings went for between $25 and $250 with a lot of fluctuation in between.
Second place in overall money raised was Jensen Yorba Lott with about $1,200, Allwine said, and Elgee Rehfeld came in third place with just shy of $1,100 raised.
Jennifer Carson, administrator for Hospice & Home Care of Juneau, which is a division of Catholic Community Service, said the about $5,300 received by Hospice & Home Care will go toward providing care.
“Typically, money like that for us goes to cover expenses for care that we provide that isn’t covered by insurance,” Carson said. “We don’t ever charge patients or their family members for services that aren’t covered by insurance.”
Carson said she was pleased by the idea of fundraiser in general and the support for her nonprofit in particular.
“I think that was awesome,” Carson said. “I love the idea that was put together by Mendenhall Auto and just the support for the community. We’re incredibly gracious to everyone who donated. Obviously hospice is something that has a special place in people’s hearts.”
• Contact arts and culture reporter Ben Hohenstatt at (907)523-2243 or firstname.lastname@example.org.