Festival of Trees raises record-breaking sum

By: 
KateLynn Slaamot

Photo by Walter Sprague/NLJ

Pinnacle Bank sponsored the 18th Annual Festival of Trees, a fundraising event for non-profit organizations in the area. Bethany Palmgren displays a wreath up for bids.

KateLynn Slaamot

NLJ Reporter

 

The Pinnacle Bank’s 18th annual Festival of Trees raised a record sum of money at this year’s event on Friday, Dec. 3. The festival raised a total of $41,318 for four local organizations — FOCUS, Weston County Children’s Center, Weston County Humane Society and Newcastle Volunteer Fire Department Explorer Post No. 66. 

According to Amy Hoffman, loan officer at Pinnacle Bank, nonprofits must submit requests to the bank to be one of the organizations benefiting from the money raised. Hoffman said that about 10 organizations submitted requests this year, with the committee deciding on the four based on the needs presented. 

“We are extremely honored to be chosen, and (we are) humbled by the response of the community,” said Francie Gregory, executive director of the children’s center. 

Gregory said that the children’s center plans to put the money it receives into a fund to get a new playground structure to replace the old one. 

The humane society plans to put the money into various construction projects that need to be done, according to Neela Beardsley, director of the society. The society is also planning on putting it toward veterinarian bills for animal care. 

FOCUS director Stacie Hoxie said that they are going to put the funds the organization receives toward continuing to serve the domestic violence and sexual assault victims of Weston County. 

“FOCUS is 100% nonprofit. … It (money) gives us more of a way to be able to help people,” Hoxie said. Because FOCUS does not charge for services, it can easily run out of means to continue helping people. With continued support, it can keep providing important services for victims. 

Explorer Post No. 66 is an organization for high school youth that teaches kids “skills to become productive leaders within our community,” said Moriahn Kenney, post chief. Explorers train with the volunteer fire department and also assist on structure fires in the city. 

“We are humbled to have been selected as a recipient of the Festival of Trees funds this year. With the donations that we receive, we plan to replace several of our aging pagers, along with some of our older uniforms and bunker gear,” Kenney said. 

The four recipients of the festival funds said that they are very grateful for the generosity of both the bank for continuing to put on the event and for the tremendous support of the community. 

“It means everything to us to be chosen,” Hoxie said, noting that it’s important for the community to help and support one another, including nonprofits that provide important services to the people of Weston County. 

Beardsley said that many nonprofits provide services that would be greatly missed if the organizations weren’t there to provide them. And they need continued support to be able to provide those services. 

“I believe that nonprofits are assets to the community. … We provide services to the community that are needed. Who would do it if we didn’t?” Beardsley said. 

Because the preschool program at the children’s center is funded by tuition and fundraising, it’s important for the center to receive support. 

Hoffman said that the support from the community for the event for 18 years means that the bank can continue putting it on each year. 

“We want to thank the community for showing up and giving generously,” she said. 

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