The 25th annual Festival of Trees in Canyonville concluded over the weekend raising thousands of dollars for the Mercy Foundation’s health programs for kids and families.
On News Radio 1240 KQEN’s Talking Health program, host Lisa Platt interviewed Donna Boak, the retiring coordinator for the Festival of Trees, Carol Ferguson, who is taking over as the coordinator, and Kathleen Nickel of Mercy Communications and a Mercy Foundation board member, about how the festival is organized and how it benefits people, especially kids in Douglas County
The following is an edited version of the interview from Nov. 26.
Lisa: Carol, you’ve been designing a tree for the Festival of Trees for several years, and now you’ll be taking over at the helm. How did you get involved?
Carol: My husband and I have been involved in many charities, but this by far, is my personal favorite. We’ve been participating in the Festival of Trees for over 15 years, not only as a designer, but as tree purchasers, and to be able to see the joy that you bring to these children in the benefits is just incredible.
Lisa: Donna, you’re an art teacher, but why else did you get involved?
Donna: That was one reason, but then you learn the benefits that the festival does for the children of Douglas County, and every year the foundation program is expanding, it’s just something that gets to your heart.
Lisa: Carol, are you artsy and crafty too?
Carol: I am and I’ve always been pretty creative and when it comes to this festival, and because of the cause, it’s really something that I look forward to every year.
Lisa: Let’s talk about the events at the Festival of Trees and how many of them are fundraising events?
Donna: We have five events during the week, and only two of them are actual fundraisers and those are the Silver Bell Luncheon and the gala event. The other events are either free or have only a very small entry fee.
The Home for the Holidays is a party focused on foster kids. It is such a meaningful evening because we get to celebrate these kids, many who have not had many celebrations in their lives and have a party that is just for them.
Senior day is such a valuable program. We had 40 different vendors at the event with community services that help seniors. So seniors can see the beautiful trees, but also visit with various agencies and ask questions.
Family Day is full of activities for kids, like learning healthy habits, a dental team from the Healthy Kids Outreach Program and UCC nursing students and dental students.
Lisa: When do festival preparations begin?
Donna: We start in January. We pretty much just wrap up this year’s festival and start working on next years. An event of this size and variety takes a full year to plan and bring together.
Lisa: What impact do you think the festival has on our community, especially the kids?
Carol: We make a huge impact on the lives of children in our community especially through the Healthy Kids Outreach Program, which a lot of this funding is used to support. The money that we raise and the hearts that people have is simply amazing.
Lisa: The Healthy Kids Outreach Program started in 2006 with humble beginnings providing RN services at the schools with nutrition and health hygiene education and over the years we’ve expanded it to include dental. We’re literally out in every school district in Douglas County and will serve over 16,000 kids annually.
So kudos to all of the volunteers and all of the businesses that contribute, they are impacting of so many kids, and as we like to say, every kid counts.
Kathleen Nickel, you serve on the Mercy Foundation board, share with us how it helps the kids?
Kathleen: The board is filled with wonderful community members who are very committed to the mission of the foundation. Board members are dedicated to making sure that our youngest residents get access to needed services, whether that is health care, dental care, even backpacks and school supplies.
Many of the board members are also very involved with Festival of Trees committees and dedicate a lot of their time each year to making sure that the festival happens annually.
Lisa: Carol, if people want to be involved with the Festival of Trees, what do they do?
Carol: You can call the foundation office at 541-677-4818, or send an e-mail to email@example.com