Celebrating the 22nd Annual Festival of Trees in conjunction with the City’s 100th Birthday provided a natural opportunity to harness the root industry in Prince George with a Lumberjack theme. Final numbers for funds raised will be announced soon, but at this time Spirit of the North is able to confirm that the Foundation’s largest annual fundraiser was once again an overwhelming success thanks to the support of our amazing community.
Festival of Trees is an opportunity for Spirit of the North to engage the community as a whole in a fun filled, holiday event, with all proceeds used to improve healthcare in the North. Without the support of our sponsors, donors and volunteers, and the general public, Festival of Trees would not be possible and we are so grateful for the way our community comes together each year, donating time, tangible items, and funds to support our mission.
Hundreds of volunteers gave thousands of hours in the course of setting up, running and dismantling/delivering Festival of Trees over the course of the past 17 days. Together with our volunteer organizing committee, the volunteers are the engine that makes Festival run!
“No amount of words can express how thankful we are for the support we received for this event,” said Judy Neiser, CEO for the Spirit of the North. “We are so very grateful to our sponsors, donors, volunteers and everyone who attends this event to ultimately strengthen healthcare in the North. We respect that donors have a choice in where they donate, and we are so thankful that the community has embraced the Spirit of the North in their philanthropic wishes.”
A new layout, 116 decorated trees and 53 wreaths meant that this was the largest Festival of Trees in its 22 years!
Thanks to sponsor Accent Dental, Story Time was brought to the Festival daily, Canadian Tire brought the Green Magic photo team to several events, and Bryant Electric came on board to be the first electrical sponsor in Festival of Trees history – it takes a lot of power and connections to light up so many trees!
Also new this year, was a truly special philanthropic effort. Northland Auto Group designed ten Miracle Mirror Trees, five pairs of matching trees. Three of these pairs of trees were in the silent auction, and two were in the live auction. The winning bidder of each pair of trees was able to keep the first tree, while the “mirror” tree was donated to a family chosen by the St. Vincent De Paul Society.
Several events were sold out well before the Festival even began this year. The Dance & Dine Among the Pine event, a dinner and dance perfect for small and medium sized groups sold out in October and was so popular the committee is considering adding a second event! The Houg Slaney Fashion Show sold out days before opening, while the Medichair Senior’s Luncheon and Scotiabank Senior’s Tea sold out well in advance of each event.
The morning events, the Northland Auto Group Family Brunch and TD Teddy Bear Breakfast, were also sold to capacity. We are thankful to the staff of the Prince George Civic Centre and Eurest Dining Services for the wonderful job they do in helping to set up each event and preparing each meal.
This year’s Gala Fundraising Auction event, with 251 people attending, raised over $300,000!
The auction this year had 13 unique items (including an incredible outhouse built by 3D Wood Design, a Bourbon Trail Experience and Santa Himself) 10 fabulous trees, and a Mystery Tree that turned out to have a car under it!
Shirley Gratton’s famous Christmas fruitcake was sold twice during the auction, raising a total of $25,000 to help Spirit of the North in their mandate to bring the best of care close to home in the North.
Gala attendees also responded generously when Foundation CEO Judy Neiser presented an opportunity to fund a much needed Maldi-Tof Mass Spectrometer at UHNBC, providing over $120,000 in donations within 10 minutes of the request. With the generous support of our valued donors, Spirit of the North is well on the way to funding this piece of diagnostic equipment.
Auctioneer Jim Jungers from Stokes Auction Group did a fantastic job again this year, running a fast moving auction and engaging each group of guests.
Ten days of holiday excitement, entertainment, visits from Santa and something to warm everyone’s heart in an amazing winter wonderland has been a success once again.
Next year we will be celebrating Spirit of the North Healthcare Foundation’s 25th anniversary at the 23rd Annual Festival of Trees.
For more information, or to donate funds to support healthcare in the North this Christmas season or at any time throughout the year, please contact the Spirit of the North Foundation office at 250-565-2515.