Next week, the community is invited to enjoy the 45 decorated Christmas trees being displayed at Tooele High School’s 21st annual Winter Tree Festival.
The Winter Tree Festival, which began in 1992, gives clubs and organizations the option to sponsor a local family in need of a little extra help during the holiday season. More than 40 THS clubs and organizations signed up this year.
“I think the best part is the Winter Tree Festival brings together all of the clubs at THS,” said Drew Peterson, THS senior class president.
By sponsoring a family, the club or organization raises enough money to give the family a tree, decorations for the tree and presents to put underneath the tree.
“It really helps families in need,” said Phoenix Hammond, a junior at THS. “We’re able to give a Christmas to those who normally wouldn’t get to have one and the feeling is just tremendous because you know you really helped someone and it’s such a selfless feeling. I’m so glad our school does it.”
The names of families being sponsored were provided by the Salt Lake Community Action Program. The clubs were given the ages of the children in each family and what items they needed or wanted for Christmas.
“Getting to meet the family is the best reward of all because you get to see how happy the families are,” said Peterson. “As a senior class, we are spending about $400 all together. It’s a lot to help the families. For most families, it’s their entire Christmas.”
Last year, 35 clubs and organizations joined in the Winter Tree Festival and helped sponsor 42 local families. This year, 45 clubs are participating and 49 local families are being helped.
“We’re helping over 150 kids this year,” said Peterson.
From Dec. 10 through Dec. 13, the community is invited to enjoy the Christmas trees from 5 to p.m. On Dec. 14, the community will be able to see the trees from 2:30 to 4 p.m. During those times, donation boxes will be underneath each tree.
“We want everyone to donate, even if it’s just pocket change, because Christmas is a time to give,” said Devan Gowans, THS junior class officer.
At the end of the exhibit on Dec. 14, the sponsored families will be invited to THS to have milk and cookies and get their picture taken with Santa Claus. That night, the clubs and organizations will meet their sponsored family and give them their tree and presents to take home.
“This festival connects us with the community,” said McKaylee Bird, THS student body president. “We are able to serve others and give to those that are in need or less fortunate than we are.”