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Festival of Trees helps spread holiday harmony

  • Eagle correspondent
  • Published Thursday, Nov. 29, 2012, at 12:08 p.m.
  • Updated Friday, Nov. 30, 2012, at 9:24 p.m.

If you go

Festival of Trees

What: Exhibit of 80 decorated trees to benefit Goodwill Industries, with entertainment and activities.

Where: Century II Exhibition Hall, 225 W. Douglas

When: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday, 1-4 p.m. Sunday

Tickets: $5

For more information: Call 744-9291 or visit www.goodwillks.org

Dee Guthrie, the president of River City Decorative Artists, has decorated a Christmas tree to be auctioned off by Goodwill Industries for the past 10 years.

Guthrie, like dozens of other creative Wichitans, enjoys giving her time, talents and money in order to help others.

“We do it because it’s our way of donating something to the community,” Guthrie said. “It’s a great fundraiser and a great organization.”

Last year’s festival raised $80,000. This money was used to help people with disabilities in Wichita.

More than 80 trees and wreaths will be decorated for this year’s 20th Festival of Trees. To celebrate, Goodwill’s tree is decorated in silver and platinum. Other trees sport a variety of themes, including dolls, sweets, Coca-Cola and picture frames.

Each donated tree is decorated by members of a business or organization. Some decorations are handcrafted, like those donated by Great Plains Woodcarvers. Other ornaments are store bought. The trees will be auctioned off tonight at the Festival of Trees Starlight Gala. Admission to the 6 p.m. cocktail party and silent auction is $75.

Many of the trees are bought at the gala and then re-donated to charities. Others are kept and placed in the buyer’s home. Last year, Integrated Facilities Group’s “games” tree was bought and then donated to the Ronald McDonald House.

“We like to design a tree for someone to purchase to donate,” said Marsha Geisert, the owner of IFG. She has been involved in the festival for 15 years.

This year, IFG bought more than $1,200 worth of gift certificates from local businesses, then ornately wrapped the certificates in red, black and silver paper and hung them on a black tree. Beautifully wrapped presents are scattered below this sophisticated-looking tree.

Guthrie, along with 25 members of River City Decorative Artists, painted snowmen ornaments and picked a quilting theme for their tree.

The Wichita branch of the International Design Association has 15 designers and several sales associates helping with their Muppet-themed tree.

“We try to pick a theme that will appeal to adults and kids,” said designer Carolyn Boos. “It has to be something fun and pretty.”

Below the Muppet tree, a Gonzo and Walter basket filled with Muppet movies sits next to Rizzo’s basket of food. Eleven plush Muppet toys adorn the tree.

“Our designers and our volunteers go above and beyond when they design a tree,” said Amber Hendrix, the vice president of marketing at Goodwill Industries. “What comes out of it is spectacular.”

Santa and his elves are stopping by the festival on Saturday and Sunday. The event also will feature dancers and singers, face painting and craft areas, as well as talks on decorating for the holidays.

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