Sophisticated Evening Planned for 21st Annual Pine Peace Auction

The 21st annual Pine Peace Auction, which is the biggest fundraiser of the year for the Gifft Hill School, is sure to be a “debonair, sophisticated event,” according to GHS head Ben Biddle, and will feature a new technological addition — a Web site for proxy bidding.

The auction will take place at the Westin Resort and Villas on March 3, where George Blackhall will show off his talented auctioneer skills, ensuring that the most money is brought in for each package.

Bidders will also be able to use the auction’s Web site,, which has not yet been launched, for proxy bidding and viewing the packages ahead of time, explained auction committee chairwoman Beth Jones.

Funds for Technology, Athletics
“There will be photos and links to the hotels, so people can get an idea of what they want before they get there,” said Jones. “They will have time to think about how much they want to spend.”

The online proxy bidding will end at noon the day of the auction, Jones added.

Biddle hopes to top last year’s final tally of $115,000 at the fundraiser, which is raising money this year for new computers and new athletic equipment, the GHS head explained.

The private school’s main fundraiser is important to keeping the school operating at its best, according to Biddle.

“We expect a grand affair,” he said. “This is the biggest fundraiser of the year. It’s hugely important.”
The evening will feature a video of the school’s students by Steve Simonsen and a martini bar, Biddle explained.

‘Stylish, Sophisticated Evening’
“We’re hoping for it to be really polished,” said Biddle. “We are being very creative this year to give the event a lot of flair. We are shooting for our most stylish, sophisticated evening yet.”

While the packages up for auction this year have not been finalized, the items up for bid usually include everything from vacation packages to jewelry, explained Jones.

“The Westin and Caneel have committed to give us things similar to what they’ve given us in the past, which includes stays in Rome, Paris, Hawaii and the Bahamas,” she said. “Usually, we have all sorts of things. We get lots of local art, including paintings, turned wood bowls and jewelry, and retailers give us clothes, handbags and sunglasses.”

One item that is sure to bring in the big money is a quilt made by GHS students, explained Jones.

“The kids are doing a quilt this year, which is beautiful,” she said. “They’re making quilt squares of their favorite books.”

The Pine Peace Auction would not be possible without the community, which comes out in full force in support of GHS, according to Jones.

Community Effort
“You’d be surprised at what we get,” she said. “The level of donations that we get from this small island is unbelievable. Putting this event on is a huge effort by basically the whole community.”

Jones hopes the event will sell out, which nearly happened last year, she explained.

“The ballroom at the Westin holds 220 people, and we’d love to sell it out,” said Jones. “Last year, we sold 205 seats.”

Biddle urges the St. John community to come out and support GHS at the Pine Peace Auction.

“Creative Things with the Youth”
“The school is doing a lot of creative things with the youth of St. John, including taking them on trips, preparing them for college with intensive courses and preparing them for enjoying gardening, woodworking and art,” Biddle said. “We have in place a faculty that always amazes me. They are a great resource for the kids on island and we should all be very proud of the school and continue to support it and provide as much as we can.”

Tickets are $125 per person or $1,000 for a table of 10, and can be purchased at St. John Hardware or by calling the school at 776-6595.