Decked halls with twinkling Christmas lights, colorful patterns of green, red and gold paper, and beautiful wreaths and stockings were only the tip of the iceberg for the 80 beautifully decorated Christmas trees donated to the Red Oak ISD Education Foundation second annual Festival of Trees event.
The event was held Nov. 24 through Dec. 1 with several businesses, churches, school classrooms, organizations and individuals showing their holiday spirit by donating a tree to a silent auction, with all proceeds benefiting the foundation.
The Lions Club and the North Ellis County Outreach Center also donated trees to be raffled off with proceeds benefiting each organization.
“All the trees, wreaths and stockings were donated by various individuals and groups with all the monies going toward the foundation,” Sherry Fox said, with Mary Rose Corriles adding, “We’ve even opened the event to allow others to raise money toward their organizations by donating a tree.”
Among the many donors were Odyssey HealthCare, Carter Pest Control, Budget Yellow Pages, Red Oak Health and Rehabilitation, Loving Touch Adult Day Care, Wooden Elementary, Eastridge Elementary, Red Oak High School, Adventure Academy, Metroplex Furniture Store and several others.
With a former classroom wing of the former elementary school transformed into a Winter Wonderland headed by the creative imagination of Red Oak junior high art teacher Malea Jaffe with Pam Lynch, Karen Anderson and their team of foundation directors assisting, the goal was to make the Festival of Trees a magical experience for everyone, organizer Dana Rodes said.
“That’s what this is really about—the whole community coming together in the spirit of joy to create something beautiful and memorable for everyone to share,” Rodes said. “ It took a tremendous amount of work from everyone involved and generosity from the tree donors, but the end result will be truly special for all the people of Red Oak as they share in this happy Christmas tradition.”
There were several Christmas themes chosen by donors, such as “Our Shining Stars,” “Maroon Out,” “Fitness for Life,” “A Wooden Christmas,” “Hot Wheels,” “Let It Snow,” “Hawk the Herald Angels Sing,” “Recycle Christmas” and many more to help set the holiday mood.
Visitors seemed astounded with the way the trees were decorated — whether it was their first or second visit to the event.
“I think that the trees are very beautiful and I really feel that the donations are going towards an excellent cause,” Tara Ferguson said.
“This is my first time here and the trees are very nice,” Greg Beaty said. “I haven’t seen all of them but I will get around to them. This is pretty neat and I will come back again next year.”
“This is my first time and everything is really nice,” Kim Boyd said. “The trees are really nice and my favorite one is the “Snowman Delight” because I like the snowman. I didn’t donate this year but I will come back next year and bring some people with me.”
Amid all the trees and decorations, a little bit more of excitement was added as entertainment was provided each day of the festival with special performances by Eastridge Elementary’s Good News Club, Dance Xpressions, Girls Scouts, Stacia’s School of Dance, Vandeburg Brothers, Wooden Elementary fourth-graders, Shields Elementary Steel Drums and Choir, Sassy Senior Ladies Dance Troupe and Red Oak Junior High Drama Club.
“All the participation came from the different acts and donors that donated a tree to the festival,” Fox said, noting the community response was a well-received one.
“The response was great with church choirs and kids groups coming to sing for us,” she continued. “We’ve had great group participation as well.”
To top off the event, Santa Claus made a special appearance in the Santa Room, where parents were allowed to take pictures with their children. Kids were also allowed a chance in a whimsical room called “Frosty’s Snow Fort” where they made a snow angel on the ground.
“This was a very good experience overall and we’re really happy,” Rodes said. “We met our goal and we just want to thank everyone and every organization for coming out and supporting this event. It was a wonderful community effort.”
Lynch agreed with Rodes.
“Even though this event is a fund-raiser, this was much more of a community event,” Lynch said, saying every aspect of the community was involved, which made it more than just a fund-raiser. “Everyone that I spoke with said they enjoyed the event so I really do believe that this event is beginning to be something that people look forward to and that’s always a good thing.”
The event raised about $4,500, which brought the foundation very close to its 2007 goal of $90,000.
“The amount is about the same from last year so this was a very good way to close out the year,” Lynch said.
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