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Generous community makes Festival of Trees fundraiser sparkle

Story and photos by Sharon Harrison
The Festival of Trees exists, and only seems to get better and better each year, because of loyal volunteers, generous donors and a community that supports it every year.

Around 200 three-foot Christmas trees filled multiple rooms and buildings at the Isaiah Tubbs Resort and Conference Centre on County Road 12 at West Lake over three days last weekend.

The sparkle factor was high, as was the creativity and ingenuity, as individuals, groups, businesses and organizations created unique themed trees especially for the event.

All the donated trees formed part of a giant silent auction, where anyone could bid on as many as they wished. The free, much-anticipated event has become an annual tradition for many. And while bidding is welcomed and encouraged, taking an hour or two to browse the many wonderful trees, in a joyous seasonal setting, is also an important part of the special experience.

While the majority of the donations were trees, the definition does expand to include other items, such as wreaths, quilts, artwork, a dog kennel, a clock, and furniture. There were also bucket draws and a Second Time Around boutique.

Live musical entertainment throughout the three-day event added to the spirit of the festival, along with children’s entertainment, and Santa Claus who made several appearances.

All the musicians donated their time to the cause, and included The Kitchen Family, Bay of Quinte Chorus, Sarah Barrett Benedict, The Reasons, and Lorain, Sandra and Linda Sine with Rob Johnson, among others.

For sale were plentiful items of home-baked goodies, as well as jars and jars of preserves and pickles, jams and jellies – 1,700 of them began the festival, but just a few dozen jars remained by Saturday night. Of the many varieties were Pina Colada jam, spiced cider jelly, spirited bumbleberry jam and three-fruit marmalade, as well as lava lamp wine cordial.

Sponsored by the Prince Edward County Memorial Hospital Auxiliary, all proceeds from the festival, now in its 26th year, go toward equipment needed by the County’s hospital. This year, the Auxiliary plans to purchase 15 intravenous infusion pumps for the PEC Memorial Hospital.

The Auxiliary has donated more than $31,000 to the hospital this year to purchase new equipment, raised through various fundraising efforts and sources. The government does not pay for any hospital equipment in Ontario hospitals, and so it is the responsibility of the community to support the Hospital Foundation fundraising to replace outdated equipment.

While many of the trees were traditional and seasonally decorated, they varied enormously as designs and creativity were as plentiful as the trees themselves. A couple were spooky, some had teddy bears; many were fun and funny, others sophisticated; a few were heartfelt, but all were spectacular in their composition and decoration.

The Abby Rose Memorial Tree, beautifully assembled and created by the family and presented by mum Lisa Heffernan, recognized Prince Edward Collegiate Institute student Abby Heffernan, who passed away earlier this year at the age of 17.

The words placed beside the tree read, in part: “Abby and I made it a tradition for the past five years to create a tree together for the festival. I have created this tree in honour of her and her passion of giving back.”

It noted how the family will match the final bid and make a memorial donation to Sick Kids Hospital “in honour of our Beautiful Sweet Angel Abby Rose”.

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