PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — A unique holiday fundraiser hopes to raise money for the St. Apollonia Dental Clinic and put beautifully decorated Christmas trees in the homes of area residents.
The region’s first-ever Festival of Trees will be held Dec. 5-7 at the Knights of Columbus Hall on Chapman Street.
The concept for the fundraiser is simple. Participants — businesses, organizations and interested individuals — supply a pre-lit, artificial tree, with a recommended height of 5 to 7 feet tall, complete with a solid stand. Then the tree is decorated and will be on display at the hall.
“The trees don’t have to have a particular theme, although they can,” Sherry Chamberland, project chair and treasurer of the St. Apollonia Dental Clinic, said. “It can be just traditional Christmas decorations, or it can be done in a theme that has a tie-in to whatever the business is. For instance, my own office — NorStar Title Co. — is going to do a tree. And because our business has to do with people buying and selling homes, we chose a theme of ‘A Home for the Holidays,’ and it’s going to be decorated in birdhouses.
“MMG is doing a ‘Polar Express’-themed tree. There is a Walt Disney ‘Frozen’-themed tree. There’s an individual who’s doing a tree, and her theme is newborns. And Mapleton Elementary School is doing a tree where all of the ornaments are being made by the children,” she said. “There’s lots of creativity out there.”
Community members are invited to view the trees. Admission is $2 for adults; children under 12 are admitted free. While there, people can purchase raffle tickets for 50 cents each and deposit the tickets in boxes by their favorite trees. At the conclusion of the event, a lucky winner will be drawn from each box. The winner will receive the tree, as well as any associated gifts the business or organization chooses to place under it.
“People can buy as many raffle tickets as they want and can ‘spend’ their raffle tickets any way they want,” Chamberland said. “They can buy a whole string of them and put them all in one tree if they really want to up their chances of winning their favorite tree, or they can spread it out over every tree.
“The one thing we do ask people is that they have to be available to pick up the tree,” she said.
Chamberland said the initial goal was to have 10-15 trees registered for the festival.
“At last count we had 22,” she said. “We met and exceeded our goal already. We are absolutely thrilled with the response we’ve had so far from the business community.”
There is no registration fee for participants, Chamberland said, because they will be supplying the artificial tree, decorations and any associated gifts.
People can view the trees from 4-8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 5; 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 6; and 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 7. The drawing for the trees will be held at 1 p.m. Sunday.
Throughout the fundraiser, the St. Apollonia Dental Clinic will be offering refreshments for sale at the Gingerbread Cafe. In addition, the Knights of Columbus will be providing a chicken stew luncheon 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday. Macaroni and cheese and hotdogs also will be available for purchase.
“Our hope is that this will bring a family-oriented event that will add to the holiday festivities for the Presque Isle area,” Chamberland said. “Typically, fundraisers end up asking businesses to open their checkbooks. And while businesses are usually very generous in doing so, we thought this festival would give businesses an opportunity to do more than just write a check. They’re going to get the benefit of their employees participating in this fun event of creating the tree and putting it together, and the business also gets to promote itself through the theme of the tree. It’s a creative way to do some advertising and help the clinic at the same time and bring this festival to the central Aroostook area.”
All proceeds, except from the chicken stew luncheon, will benefit the St. Apollonia Dental Clinic.
“The clinic was founded to service uninsured or underinsured children,” said Chamberland. “The MaineCare reimbursement rate is so low that it doesn’t even cover what it actually costs to treat these children, so the only way the clinic has to bridge the gap is through donations and fundraisers. We hope people will come out and support this fun, holiday event.”
For more information, including a registration form, go to the Festival of Trees link at stapolloniadentalclinic.com.