This is the time of year when angels begin appearing at the tops of trees, but in Lincoln City, there are angels among the trees year-round.
“We help people in need that don’t fit other assistance parameters and just need a hand up to get back on their feet” said Angels Anonymous board member Kim Nisbet. “We can do things to help them right away — it makes you feel good to be able to do that.”
Formed more than 20 years ago, Angels Anonymous helps people with a one-time injection of funds to be used for things like rent, utilities and childcare.
“We even bought someone a pair of glasses,” said founding board member Roger Robertson. “One year, we helped a family get out of a tent and later we got a letter from one of the young sons. He said the thing that meant the most to him was actually being able to put something on the wall and having it stick. Really makes your heart feel good to be able to help a family improve their circumstances.”
To be eligible, fund recipients must be residents of North Lincoln County and be referred by a local person, business or church member. When requests come in, one of the board members does a background check or research to make sure the donation will fit the fund rules.
“We really vet people,” Nisbet said. “We’re not just spending the donors’ money willy-nilly. It’s really hard to say ‘no’ to anyone and you hear some really heartbreaking stories, but our mission is to help people make it through or out of a rough patch.”
In winter, when the requests for funds are at their highest, the angels are also throwing their biggest annual fundraiser, the Angels Ball. Happening at Chinook Winds Casino Resort on Saturday, Dec. 7, the gala event includes dinner and dancing, with live music by Collective Nation, playing songs by Beyonce, Bruno Mars and Maroon 5.
This year’s raffle will include a donated art piece worth $8,000, while a new fun raffle, the “Dazzling Diamond Discovery,” will have one lucky winner going home with a diamond necklace.
“We are selling little wrapped boxes for $20 each,” said Nisbet, who with husband Dennis donated the glittering prize. “One lucky winner will get the necklace and the rest will at least get chocolate.”
The ball finishes with the closing of the silent auction for the Fantasy of Trees, the high point of the event, where guests bid on sumptuously decorated trees that are so much more than ornamental.
“People hold it pretty quiet until they start decorating, but there are always so many good trees,” Nisbet said. “One of the trees this year includes a round-trip train ride between Salem and Seattle with a hotel stay and a ferry trip to Victoria that includes a carriage ride.”
“In previous years, we’ve had trees like one done by Roby’s that came with a complete living room set and another decorated like a ladder that had tools all over it,” she added. “There have been beer trees, wine trees, and one year there was one by the Girl Scouts that was decorated with boxes of all their cookies.”
Nisbet’s family often decorates a tree.
“Two years ago, I made a powder blue tree and the whole family built an entire Lego village around it with a working train,” she said. “It took us months to put together but was really fun.”
From Wednesday, Dec. 4, through Saturday, Dec. 7, members of the public are welcome to view the finished trees and place bids. Trees will also have a posted “Buy it now” price for those that don’t want to take the chance to be outbid, but the tree must stay at the casino until after the Angels Ball.
And if you don’t want the commitment of a full tree, wreaths are also up for adoption.
“We have 11 wreaths and 21 trees this year,” Nisbet said. “That’s the most we’ve ever had.”
Once the ball is over, the angels go back to doing the work of helping their neighbors.
“This is the best thing I’ve ever been a part of,” Robertson said. “The premise of what we do has never changed since we started, and we still have four original board members. When you are doing something that makes you feel good, it’s easier to stick with it.”
Doors for the Angels Ball will open at 4 pm, with dinner starting at 5:45 pm. As of press time, tickets, $85 apiece, were still available but going fast. To book yours, go to angelsanonymousinc.com/angels_ball_2019. Chinook Winds Casino Resort is located at 1777 NW 44th Street.