MEDFORD, Ore. — An annual event aimed at raising money for community health programs met its fundraising goal of $700,000. For more than 27 years, the Safeway Providence Festival of Trees has invited members of the community to bid on specially decorated trees, with many of those trees then donated to local schools and other organizations.
“The Providence Festival of Trees is a fun, spectacular event, but its real magic is in the way it showcases the generosity of our community,” said Dr. Tom Lorish, chief executive for Providence in southern Oregon.
Designers worked to create or decorate each of the bespoke trees — including a tree dedicated to Stranger Things and another tree that was flipped completely upside down in honor of Dr. Seuss.
Between December 4 and 8 at the Medford Armory, proceeds from the event went toward the Providence Community Health Foundation in support of programs that rely on philanthropic support, Providence said. The event this year focused on Palliative Care.
“Providence Community Health Foundation is so grateful for Safeway and the sponsors who step up every year to underwrite the expenses of this fundraiser,” said Katie Hutchinson, executive director for the Providence Community Health Foundation. “Santa heard a lot of great wishes for the holidays, but something that stands out for him was how many children wished for better health for themselves or a loved one.”
Tickets for both the Festival of Trees gala and holiday party were sold out prior the event, according to Providence.
What's in a tree?
Most of the trees were sent to local nonprofits, schools, or businesses: the YMCA, Cascade Christian High School, the VA of Southern Oregon, Harry & David's Country Village, First Interstate Bank, and Airport Chevrolet.
On Monday, staff from Garrison's Home Furnishings helped Cascade Christian High School deck their halls with bells and holly after a local couple bought the Garrison's-designed tree and donated it to the school.
"We already have our plan for next year — so you plan a year ahead because it takes that long in order to plan it," said Garrison's designer Scott Morse. "Hours and hours and hours of work."
The Festival is a holiday tradition that the Garrison's crew always looks forward to.
"It's really fun on decoration day, all the camaraderie and everybody doing their own designs and things . . . it's a lot of fun," said Morse.
The company said that it already has plans in progress for next year.
Tree trimming takeaways
Providence said that the public tree-viewing events were a "huge success." Admission was free for seniors on Friday, for military veterans on Saturday, and for children age 10 and under on Sunday thanks to community sponsors. The "Teddy Bear Hospital" was a big highlight for many children and families who visited.
The tree that won both the People's Choice award and Best in Show this year was "Let Heaven and Nature Sing," designed by Kathleen Mitchell and Danika Bischoff, sponsored by Payroll Specialties.
Providence said that the winner of their "Pick of Trees" raffle was a representative of the Cow Creek Tribe of Umpqua Band of Indians, who chose a sleigh filled with dozens of toys and donated the lot to the Community Works Dunn House — a shelter for families escaping domestic or sexual abuse.
Between Festival of Trees events sponsored by Providence in Medford, Portland and Seaside, the events raised $2.4 million for medical programs and services.
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