Grafton Lodge and Conference sale aids in annual Christmas shopping trip


TAYLOR COUNTY—Typically the annual City Wide Yard Sale is a time when folks go in search of treasures to take home, but this year, while shopping at one stop, their purchases helped to give back to children in the area.

According to Office Manager Michelle Austin, Grafton Lodge and Conference, formerly Crislip Motor Lodge, held a special sale, with the proceeds going toward a special event held each Christmas season. 

Each year, the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) Lodge 116 helps to provide a holiday treat to children in the area who may not have many presents under the Christmas tree. The organization allows participants to take part in a mini shopping spree to buy special gifts for the holiday season.

The only catch is that they must only spend the money on themselves.

Before heading to the store, the youth’s bellies are filled with delicious meals from area eateries, including pizza and chicken options. Once their fueled up and ready to go, participants load busses and are escorted by the flashing lights and sirens of first responders to Walmart where they are able to shop with their sponsors.

Each year, the FOP teams up with area business and individuals to collect monetary donations for the annual event, that helps to bring a little extra Christmas Cheer, something that Austin has taken part in for numerous years.

She is usually one of the volunteers hitting the pavement to help raise funds for this one-of-a-kind event.

So, when it came time to clear out some of the old furniture from the motel, she had the idea to give residents the ability to peruse through the selection and make purchases to help fund the First Responders Christmas. She ran her plan by the owners of the establishment, who were on board immediately.

“It was really a win, win situation,” she expressed. “We had furniture that needed to go, individuals got to take home some good pieces at a great price and the money raised went toward the kids.”

When all was said and done, Austin said was able to raise $446 for the program.

“It was a great success,” voiced Austin. “We were able to sell a lot of furniture that would have otherwise probably just been pitched.” 

The former Crislip was sold at auction to the highest bidder in March, and since that time, the new owners have been working with Austin to clear out the old space and do a complete overhaul on the facility.

Afshin “Ash” Azizi and Varuzh Azryan purchased the hotel, sight unseen, and shortly after made their trip to Grafton to check out the building. Once here, they came to know the simplicity and serene beauty of the Mountain State, something they don’t often get to experience in Los Angeles, California.

It is their desire to bring to the county a high end, but affordable lodging option that will help greet guests as they travel to the area.

While work is being done, the Coronavirus pandemic has slowed things down a bit, but the duo is hopeful that once the building is complete, it will be a draw for a place that already draws in guests with its scenic beauty and small-town appeal.

“This is going to be a slow process,” said Austin, who remains in close contact with the owners of Grafton Lodge and Conference. “Selling off some of the furniture was a great way to open up some more space so that we can keep the ball rolling. We appreciate everyone who took the time to stop by and bought pieces, which will help some kids have a happier Christmas.”

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