The Mercy Foundation Festival of Trees will be held as a virtual event this year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Local artists and healthcare workers will decorate 14 trees for this year’s festival, which will be sold at auction to raise funds for Mercy Foundation’s programs.
In the past 28 years, the Festival of Trees has raised more than $5 million to benefit children and families through promoting health and wellness.
Mercy Foundation Executive Director Lisa Platt said all the money goes back out into the local community.
Among the foundation’s programs are school-based dental care, human trafficking prevention, providing school supplies for children and giving support to families with children who have Type 1 diabetes.
The diabetes program started 18 months ago, after the foundation learned that Douglas County families traveling to Portland for their kids’ diagnosis weren’t connected to local services back home.
More than 60 kids with Type 1 diabetes are now part of that program.
“We are a support group for families, we get them connected to care, we get them connected to resources. Every month we do an activity for the parents as well as the kiddos so they can connect with each other,” she said.
Platt said she decided to hold the Festival of Trees virtually after seeing how taxed the Mercy Medical Center was treating COVID-19 patients during the recent surge in cases.
“I did not want to expose a potential epicenter for more people to get COVID, so that’s why we’re doing a virtual event,” she said.
In addition to the 14 trees, a wreath and a piece of jewelry will be created for this year’s auction.
This year’s theme is “The Season for Gratitude.”
She said she wanted to recognize the efforts of healthcare workers and first responders.
“We’re just really thankful once again that our community was able to come together during this pandemic,” Platt said.
The trees will be staged at the Douglas County Fairgrounds Floral Building, but there won’t be a formal viewing this year. Pictures of the trees will be online by Dec. 2.
“Everybody will have an opportunity to see all of the trees online,” she said.
Gala Tree and Buy it Now Auctions will be live-streamed at 7 p.m. Dec. 4, with a preview streamed beginning at 6 p.m.
The kickoff for the online, silent Buy it Now Auction starts at 5 p.m. Dec. 2 and ends at 7 p.m. Dec. 4.
The trees will be auctioned off at the Dec. 4 event.
Other items will be auctioned off at the Festival of Trees Silver Bell Auction. That auction will be streamed live at noon Dec. 2, with a preview streamed at 11:30 a.m. that day.
An online silent auction opens at noon Nov. 26 and ends at noon Dec. 2.
You can register for all the online Festival of Trees events at FestivalofTrees2021.ggo.bid.