After the year everyone has had, some Christmas cheer and fresh air is good for the soul.
At the Edgewood Children’s Ranch, staff and ranchers have been whipping up just the solution — a holiday picnic — for weeks. Picnic With a Little Christmas will take place at the Southwest Orange ranch from noon to 2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 5.
Typically, the ranch hosts its picnic fundraiser in the spring, but COVID-19 disrupted those plans this year. However, staff is confident it can host a fun and safe picnic just in time for the holidays.
“We’re doing a picnic that will be outdoors and combining it with a small Christmas auction, because we have Christmas items that normally we would’ve sold at our big auction that happens in November, which was not able to happen this year,” Edgewood Children’s Ranch Development and Event Coordinator Kimberly Vinson said. “We’re doing a save-the-date for Feb. 19 for our annual gala, but we figured in February, people will not be wanting to buy Christmas items. So we’re trying something new and different this year thanks to Gaby (Acks) coming up with this idea.”
Tickets and available tables are limited to help with social distancing and proper safety measures. Already, Vinson said, most of the tables are sold out.
“We didn’t know how many people would even be coming to the picnic, because there’s still a lot of concerns, so we thought we might have very few tables,” Vinson said. “A little over a week ago, I was concerned with the numbers. … By this morning, I have about the 20 tables that I normally sell. We do have a good turnout, and then we’re having a small Christmas auction with it.”
The picnic is an outdoor event that allows friends and family to enjoy some good barbecue while getting to know the Edgewood Children’s Ranch and its mission. Since 1966, the ranch has provided children and their families a safe environment to change their behaviors and the course of their lives. It is a “cottage life” residential program that allows children to live with others in a family-style unit and emphasizes the development of responsibility, accountability, self-control and faithfulness.
“It’s very casual,” Vinson said of the picnic. “Normally, there’s no auction. It’s just our children on the playground and families on the playground just enjoying fellowship and food. It’s just a nice, simple social event for families and friends of the ranch. People can come out and get to know us and take a tour of the ranch through the eyes of one of our ranchers.”
This year, the ranchers will be a bit more separated from guests for safety precautions. However, Vinson said, the ranchers will be singing Christmas songs and enjoying one another’s company.
For the Christmas auction, items that guests can bid on include Christmas trees that ranch volunteers have decorated, Santa décor, ornaments made by the ranchers, wreaths and even reindeer lawn ornaments.
“Once again, God is blessing us with that — because at first I thought I was going to have like six items — but I have much more,” Vinson said. “It’s a small fundraiser, and we didn’t know what it would turn into, but the bottom line also is it’s just a fun way to come out and see us casually and safely, and (a way to) let people come out and enjoy themselves in a safe environment.”
“It’s a chance for us to be able to invite friends and family out to the ranch to see us, and to see that even though it’s been a tough year, we’re still able to carry on — and it’s through the generosity of our community.” — Kimberly Vinson, Edgewood Children’s Ranch development and event coordinator
As part of the COVID-19 precautions for the outdoor picnic portion of the event, tables will be spaced out and servers will wear masks and gloves. Ranchers also will eat separately from guests.
Inside the gym where the auction will take place, bidding tables will be more than 6 feet apart, and masks are recommended. Staff will limit the number of people going inside at a time. Hand sanitizer will be available throughout the event.
“It’s a chance for us to be able to invite friends and family out to the ranch to see us, and to see that even though it’s been a tough year, we’re still able to carry on — and it’s through the generosity of our community,” Vinson said. “It’s rewarding that people want to come out and support us and see us. It’s rewarding to know that we have a community that’s behind us no matter what. I love that people get to see our ranchers being ranchers.”