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Festival of Trees raises $19K; supports dog shelter, Big Brothers Big Sisters

  • Rian Farrell, 4, front, and Sofia Ruggeri, 6, put in their raffle tickets for a tree during the second annual Festival of Trees sponsored by the Franklin County Rotary and Greenfield Kiwanis Clubs on Saturday, Dec. 16, 2017 at Yankee Candle. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • Michele Withers walks through the second annual Festival of Trees with her son Aiden Withers, 9, on Saturday, Dec. 16, 2017 at Yankee Candle. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • Bob Bourbeau carries his grandson Connor Goodhind, 3, as they walk through the second annual Festival of Trees sponsored by the Franklin County Rotary and Greenfield Kiwanis Clubs on Saturday, Dec. 16, 2017 at Yankee Candle. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • A prize tree featuring gift cards for Shelburne Falls businesses during the second annual Festival of Trees sponsored by the Franklin County Rotary and Greenfield Kiwanis Clubs on Saturday, Dec. 16, 2017 at Yankee Candle. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • Donated prize Christmas trees on display during the second annual Festival of Trees. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • One of the donated prize Christmas trees on display during the second annual Festival of Trees sponsored by the Franklin County Rotary and Greenfield Kiwanis Clubs on Saturday, Dec. 16, 2017 at Yankee Candle. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • Rotarians Toni Manning, from left, April Healey, and Kiwanis member Bryan Smith during the second annual Festival of Trees on Saturday at Yankee Candle. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • One of the donated prize Christmas trees on display during the second annual Festival of Trees sponsored by the Franklin County Rotary and Greenfield Kiwanis Clubs on Saturday, Dec. 16, 2017 at Yankee Candle. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE



Recorder Staff
Wednesday, December 20, 2017

SOUTH DEERFIELD — Just in time for Christmas, the Franklin County Rotary Club and the Greenfield Kiwanis Club are presenting a financial gift to two local organizations.

Through their annual Festival of Trees, the Rotary and Kiwanis Clubs raised $18,954, which, after expenses, will be divided evenly between Big Brothers Big Sisters and the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office Regional Dog Shelter, according to Event Coordinator April Healey.

“Last year, we raised about $8,500 (before expenses), so this year was incredible,” Healey said. “The Franklin County Rotary (Club) really enjoyed being able to work with another service organization, the Greenfield Kiwanis Club … The two clubs together were able to make this event so successful by working as a team.”

This was the Festival of Trees’ second year, Healey said. The event, which was held at the Yankee Candle Village Annex from Nov. 30 to Dec. 16, featured more than 60 trees that were sponsored by local businesses, civic and social organizations, individuals and families.

Most trees were won by raffle, along with their trimmings and anything underneath them. The Big Brothers Big Sisters and Franklin County Sheriff’s Office Regional Dog Shelter trees, however, were auctioned off on opening night to kick off fundraising, Healey said.

“I think our beneficiaries, kids and animals, are something everyone can get behind,” she said.

Now that the Festival of Trees involves consistent sponsors, Healey said next year she plans to incorporate contests for different tree categories, and hopes to see the event double in size.

“I think as we go, we’re just going to get bigger and bigger,” she said. This year, the event also added dancing and musical entertainment with an idea of growing attendance.

More than money

While the Festival of Trees is primarily a fundraiser, Healey said it also provides people with holiday cheer.

“Even people who remark to me they’re having a hard time getting into the holiday spirit, when they walk through and see the trees, especially with all the kids running around, it brings back that holiday spirit,” she said.

Amy Proietti, a member of the Franklin County Rotary Club, echoed Healey’s words as she perused the collection of trees with her 5-year-old son Joe Proietti.

“I’m kind of a Grinch, so it gets me into the holiday spirit,” Proietti, 45, of Greenfield, said with a laugh.

Last year, Proietti recounted winning a tree sponsored by Greenfield Community College that was decorated with bookmarks, and noted how sponsors came prepared with creative new ideas this year.

“People knew what to expect this year, so they kind of stepped up their game,” she said. “There’s great variety.”

Some trees were more traditional, decorated with ornaments, garland and tinsel, while others were something different entirely, like a tree made of lottery tickets donated by Sherry Deane, or the Kiwanis Club’s ladder tree. In some cases, multiple businesses from individual towns banded together to create one tree.

But the main focus

Perhaps more than anything, tree admirers agreed they love that the Festival of Trees is a charitable fundraiser.

“It’s for a good cause,” said Debbie Bassett, 62, of Erving.

Bassett attended the Festival of Trees with three generations of her family, including her sister Nancy Felton, 60, of Erving, who told Bassett about the event as a Yankee Candle employee. Bassett’s granddaughter Audrianna Bassett, 10, also of Erving, eagerly darted around to the different trees, while having a hard time choosing where she wanted to use her raffle ticket.

“More than anything it’s about supporting the fundraising effort,” Proietti said. “The holiday spirit is to give and to give back, and what a fun way to do it.”

Next year’s event is set for Nov. 29 through Dec. 15. To become a sponsor, contact Healey by phone at 413-695-3207 or by email at FCFestivalofTrees@gmail.com.