The Dr. R.E.M. Lee Hospital Foundation’s second annual Festival of Trees was set to take place on Nov. 20 and 21. But one day before the event was scheduled to begin, Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.’s chief public health officer introduced sweeping new COVID-19 restrictions, forcing the cancellation of the in-person part of the Festival of Trees which was set to take place at Terrace’s Heritage Park.
The Festival of Trees moved online and was extended for the entire week. Even though there was no hot apple cider or in-person tree viewing, the event generated nearly $30,000 from sponsorships and auctioned-off trees and other items.
Proceeds from the event helped the Dr. R.E.M. Lee Hospital Foundation reach its goal of purchasing of a $211,000 ultrasound with echo-cardiogram for Mills Memorial Hospital.
“It was a bit of a punch, but you know what, the community just came through and we’ve got the ultrasound,” said Heather Bellamy, Dr. R.E.M. Lee Hospital Foundation administrative assistant.
“The bids did well on just about everything and some of the mini-trees even surprised us by going almost completely up to the value on the tree which was really great.”
Departments at Mills Memorial Hospital and the medical and business communities were invited to take a miniature tree and decorate it. Twenty-one of those trees were then supposed to be displayed at the festival to the public who could win them in a raffle.
The online auction also featured five decorated corporate trees valued at over $1,000 each from West Point Rentals, Skeena Sawmills, Progressive Ventures, Sherwood Mountain Brewhouse and Totem Ford.
Bellamy thanked sponsors and everyone involved for their support and contributions and said the foundation is planning a redo of the event at Heritage Park.
“Next year we’ve got it kinda set up in our minds how it should work so nothing’s lost, you’ve got the pre-planning, you’ve got the corporate sponsors who came online, and some of the people said ‘we want to do trees again next year so it’s getting some traction which is really nice.”
Last year, the first edition of the Festival of Trees was held at the Evangelical Free Church raised $6,600 towards the purchase of a ophthalmic surgical microscope.
Ben Bogstie, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Interior News