by Jessica Pahutski – Staff Editor
Right around this time of year, many families look for the perfect festive decorations to put in their home, although they have children with serious health problems and can’t find the time or the money to buy any. To help these families, several “Festival of Trees” events are held to raise money for pediatric medical facilities.
Usually held in a convention center or other large room, the Festival shows off dozens of decorated trees and wreaths with themes based around things like classic Christmas movies and sports teams. After a few days’ showings, an auction takes place with the proceeds going to local hospitals. The fundraiser started in Salt Lake City in 1970 and has spread to at least 20 separate locations in the US and one in Canada.
Organized by MultiCare since the early 90’s and held in the first week of December at the Greater Tacoma Convention & Trade Center, the Festival of Trees has raised more than $30,000,000 for Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital in 30 years. According to the official website, over 15,000 people attended last year alone. Along with the usual public days, MultiCare employees, their families, and volunteers can tour the grounds early.
Over 800 volunteers put in dozens of hours to make it happen and it shows. Live music and occasional video presentations about the history of the event add to the feeling of cheer that surrounds the venue. Though it can be easily assumed that each 8-foot tree would cost an arm and a leg to buy in a store or at an auction, no monetary amount can compare with the atmosphere of charity that can be felt just wandering from one end of the exhibition room to the other.