Standing 10 to 12 feet high and stunningly adorned, the live Christmas trees towering in the Camelback Inn’s ballroom for the Holiday Festival of Trees on Dec. 8 will generate bidding among the evening’s guests that will provide nearly one-third of the Arizona Burn Foundation’s annual operating budget. Climactic as the auction is — last year, one bidding war got up to $30,000 before closing with Forever Living Products finally declared winner — for the dozen new Christmas tree owners, the real excitement comes Sunday morning when volunteer teams of Valley firefighters deliver these enormous trees on their fire trucks.
The auction evening’s black-tie-optional festivities include pre-dinner cocktails, a strictly Christmas-themed silent auction — “to keep the spirit,” explains Executive Director Mike Marucci — wine toss and raffles. Short presentations about the organization punctuate the sit-down dinner that follows, this year’s main speaker to be J.R. Martinez, the Iraq War veteran burn survivor whose name became a household word as he won “Dancing with the Stars.” The auction is the highlight of the event; then, dancing to a live band completes the evening.
- The Arizona Burn Foundation’s mission is to provide emotional and financial support to families and children going through treatment for severe burn injuries. All programs are provided free.
- Arizona Children’s Burn Camp, in operation 22 years, gives child burn survivors a normal camp experience while helping them build self-esteem.
- Mrs. HotPots visits preschools and some libraries with an interactive program to teach burn and scald prevention.
- Other programs include smoke alarm walks, offering and installing high-end smoke alarms street by street in low-income neighborhoods.
- Six full-time and two part-time staff, which include the staff of Forever Courage House and a social worker to assist the families, are augmented by an active volunteer force of about 320.
- Forever Courage House provides shelter for family members of critically burned patients receiving treatment at the Arizona Burn Center and the Grossman Burn Center, and for families of severe trauma patients.