The Highlands Bolivian Mission is holding its semi-annual Bolivian Auction on Monday, August 13 at the Faith & Fellowship Hall at the Highlands United Methodist Church on Main Street. This event will begin at 6 p.m. and heavy hors d’oeuvres will be served. The $50 admission price includes the food, a silent and live auction. Al Scudder will be back as the auctioneer and many of the silent auction items will be on display in the old fellowship hall the week prior to the auction on the 13th.
The auction will feature items brought back from Bolivia, including many alpaca sweaters and other alpaca goods, wooden articles made by the foster home boys and gem stones. Dr. Baumrucker, who is a gem stone cutter, brings back numerous Bolivianitas, called ametrine here, and has the local jewelers and goldsmiths create unique pieces to be offered at the auction. Jeanne Bean Creations, The Gem Shop on the Hill and T.A. Anderson have all made jewelry for the auction. In addition, there are several pieces made from stones cut by Dr. Baumrucker himself, including a 49.7 carat green beryl and an ammonite pendant adorned with a genuine Franklin ruby. The ammonite is a fossil that is at least 35 million years old and the beryl could be called an emerald as it is a green beryl. This may be the largest cut beryl that was found in Hiddenite, N.C., one of only two places where emeralds are found in the United States.
Other items include six purses made from recycled fur coats made by Lady Turco from Asheville. Many may remember her from the Highlands Own Show in the fall where she is a regular exhibitor. Paintings and other visual arts will also be offered.
The Bolivian Mission began in 1998 and over the years has donated over one million dollars worth of medical supplies and equipment, but recently has focused on the foster home for abandoned street boys. The home houses between 23 and 25 boys at any time and stresses education as the way to a bright future. There is a woodworking shop that teaches skills that will be useful as adults as a hobby or as a job. Some of the auction items were made by the boys.
The auction is the main fundraiser this year. The mission needs to raise between $100,000 and $120,000 every year to keep the projects going. There are still medical projects, but the need has declined as the government has increased its efforts in funding quality health care. Many water projects are in use and the mission plans to expand this area of focus greatly in the coming years as the funding becomes available.
For more information about the auction or the mission, call Dr. Baumrucker at 828-200-0902 or the Methodist Church at 828-526-3376. Donations are welcome, but the auction will be more fun.
“We are working on having a live stream of the auction and maybe we can accept live text message bids,” said Baumrucker. “I will let you know if this possibility turns into a reality.”