Festival of Trees spreads holiday cheer

By Soncirey Mitchell
Reader Staff

The Festival of Trees fundraiser returns to the Bonner County Fairgrounds Thursday, Nov. 30 under the stewardship of The Community Resource EnVision Center. This beloved tradition began with Kinderhaven — now called the Kinderhaven Foundation — to raise funds for their mission to support Bonner and Boundary County children in crisis.

“We’re very excited and honored to have been selected to take on the mantle,” said CREC Vice President Becca Orchard. CREC works to unite local organizations that provide necessities like housing, food and education so that community members can easily find and access the resources they need.

The Festival of Trees 2020.
Photo by Karen Hanna

This year the festival will auction off 18 beautifully decorated, live Christmas trees ranging from the modest to the extravagant. 20% of the proceeds will go to local nonprofits chosen by each tree’s donor, and the rest will fund CREC’s community outreach.

“Some of the most important and valuable services that are being provided to people in need are the least well known and the least supported financially,” said Orchard. Visit the festival to enjoy the trees’ stunning lights and ornaments — with a cup of hot chocolate and a cookie — and stock up on holiday gifts at the Christmas Shoppe.

Kids will love meeting Santa and judging the festival’s new gingerbread competition, which emerged from a partnership with LPOSD. CREC gave participating fourth grade classes $50 to create anything imaginable out of gingerbread. Festivalgoers will vote on their favorite cookie creation and CREC will auction off the winner at the following Winter Wonderland Gala on Dec. 2. The winning class will receive $200 to fund their education and all proceeds from the auction will go to a nonprofit of their choice.

“We thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be neat if we could play a role in helping young people see the value in generosity?’” said Orchard.

Finally, attendees can purchase keepsake ornaments as part of the event’s Giving Tree. Each bauble will fund a gift — from grocery cards to games — to help foster families in Bonner County. Organizers hope that they can brighten the holiday season for these families, who have become all the more important since Kinderhaven no longer operates as a shelter.

“It’s empowering,” said Orchard. “That’s a word that’s very front and center for us. We really believe that that’s the role we can play — to empower our neighbors, to empower our service providers and to empower our community.”

Celebrate the spirit of the holiday season by helping the people and organizations that make this community a wonderful place to live.

The festival is FREE and runs from 4-7 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 30 at the Bonner County Fairgrounds, 4203 N. Boyer Ave. For more information, visit crecidaho.com/festival-of-trees.

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