Local business owners, individuals and community groups got into the holiday spirit this Sunday — for a good cause.
Charitable givers set up and decorated Christmas trees in Liberty Hall, 644 Mass., for the 25th annual Festival of Trees, a benefit auction for The Shelter Inc., a Lawrence nonprofit that provides social services for children in, or at risk of going into, state care.
Visitors can get a sneak peek of the trees and wreaths beginning at 10 a.m. today for a $3 donation (kids are free) that goes to The Shelter. Viewing continues until 8:30 p.m. and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday, when the fancy conifers will be auctioned off. Then there will be more display time from 10 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday. Shelter volunteers will then deliver on Friday.
Judy Culley, executive director of The Shelter, has been involved with the nonprofit since 1981 and said she modeled the festival on that of another nonprofit in Topeka. In 25 years, despite some rough economic patches, tree donators and purchasers have been giving, she said.
“It’s good to watch how many people want to do something to help,” she said. “People are just incredibly generous, and it’s great to see how much they want to be involved in community events and help kids.”
This is the first year Building Blocks Daycare, 1411 E. 1800 Road, has donated a tree, and teacher Cassandra Mayhugh said all the kids there helped to decorate by making their own crafts, from hand-print reindeer to embellished candy canes.
“Everyone had a part,” she said.
Beth Kelley, along with her husband, Marshall Kelley, gave a different kind of tree — one that’s supposed to last all year round. Part of the Douglas County Master Gardeners, they built a “Mrs. Claus” gardening cart with a detachable wooden tree frame.
“We wanted to give something practical,” she said
Culley said she appreciated how many different kinds of groups participated.
“It’s a total mix of people,” she said. “That’s part of what makes it a nice community event.”
Admission to the live auction Tuesday is a $35 donation. There will also be a silent auction for the donated wreaths.