The Festival of Trees will have two venues this year. Sponsors decorate trees during last year's event.

Sponsor a Christmas Tree, help a child

Annual Festival of Trees has a new second venue at Prestige

Sounds simple, and it is — and the chance to do it is during the Sooke Festival of Trees which is entering its third consecutive year said organizer Emma Irwin, who is also the chairwoman of Sooke Community for Kids.

The volunteer-run festival utilizing donated materials — which also happens in Vancouver, Victoria, Port Alberni, Osoyoos and Kelowna —  is to support BC Children’s Hospital, which Irwin called an “incredible facility” that has treated her own daughter as well as many other kids in Sooke, she said.

Local businesses, organizations and even families can sponsor a provided faux Christmas tree (or use their own fire-compliant artificial tree) that they decorate themselves and will be put on display during the holiday season. “It’s a great team building and business promoting event, said Irwin.

A new addition to this year’s event is a second venue at the Prestige Oceanfront Resort, to accommodate increased interest.

“We’re sort of outgrowing SEAPARC, we always had more sponsors than we could fit. Once the Prestige was built, it seemed like a natural gravitation to go to the hotel.”

Still, Irwin called the leisure complex a great community centre and said they wanted to include both. There are two tiers of pricing — sponsoring a tree for display at SEAPARC is $250, and for the higher-traffic Prestige, $500.

On Nov. 9, there will be a tree trimming night at both places where sponsors bring their own decorations and put forth their best creativity to produce a dazzling exhibit. In the interests of being green, and out of respect for the hosts, the only requirement is for lighting used to be of the energy-saving LED variety as opposed to traditional incandescent bulbs.

As part of the night’s activities, there will be festive sweet treats and hot drinks served while a Sooke “celebrity” jury consisting of familiar faces in the community award prizes to their favorite entries. Sponsors are encouraged to bribe their jury panel with things like donations to sweeten their chances.

Afterwards, pictures will be taken and put up on the BCCH website where the public can vote for their favorite tree. Alternatively, donation and voting boxes will be set up in front of each tree where people can drop in their ballot. Judging will take place in January.

“I’m really excited about it, I think it’ll really kick off Christmas in Sooke in a big way.”

Last year, the festival raised just over $3,000 — a lot of success coming from third level sponsoring by getting friends and families involved as well. This year their goal is $10,000, with all proceeds going to BCCH.

To learn more or register, visit the BC Children’s Hospital website at secure.bcchf.ca and click on events.

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