Festival of Trees raises second highest amount for Family Place

The Family Place saw a huge boost in their support from the community on Thursday evening, as the 17th annual Festival of Trees raised the second-highest amount of money in the history of the event, bringing in $66,629, with some funds still to come in yet.
Executive director Dawn Gutzke was overwhelmed by the generosity shown at the event, which included a live auction of 23 decorated Christmas trees, a 55-inch TV and a trip to a time-share lodge in Canmore, Alta., plus 101 silent auction items and a couple of raffles.
“It’s the biggest night of the year for the Family Place. … It was a beautiful event overall with some amazing moments that made it so special,” said Gutzke, noting one special moment was when auctioneer Winston Bailey got some help from three young girls to sell the tree that they and their moms decorated.
The tree was themed around Minnie Mouse, and was called “The 3 Mouse-keteers”, featuring a photo of Paisley Leippi, and sisters Maci and Alexis Jack, who all went through the Mini-Go program. Their tree ended up being sold to PAR Contractors for $2,100, and was donated back to the Family Place to give to a family in need.
A total of eight trees were donated back to the Family Place, and in a move that totally floored Gutzke, the trip to Canmore was bought by the Farr family for $1,600, and was donated to the Gutzke family in tribute for her work with the Family Place.
“The gesture, thanking me for all my time spent at the Family Place, means a lot to me to just know people do appreciate all the work,” she said, tears filling her eyes as she spoke of it, noting she often takes the cares home with her, and there is a lot of time spent away from her family, so to have a gift where she can spend this time with her family is very meaningful.
The funds raised help keep the doors open for the family resource centre, as Gutzke noted this helps pay for those expenses that are not covered by the grants which help provide for programs like Mini-Go.
“For myself and the staff, when you’re here seeing the love and support and people bidding on these trees, it’s inspiring for us. It shows us how much the Family Place means to everyone, and makes us work harder throughout the year. We want to do great things for families, because everybody loves the whole organization so much,” said Gutzke.
Breaking down the funds raised at the festival, the silent auction brought in $14,433, the Christmas trees brought in $49,950, the loonie 50-50 raffle raised $554, and the Fletchers Angels tree raised $950 with 190 angels sold.
The 50-50 loonie draw was won by Margaret Giroux. In the voting on the favourite parts of the festival, the people’s choice of silent auction items was the toy farmyard made and donated by Morley and Helen Orsted, and the favourite tree was from the Oil Women’s organization.
The highest price for the trees was $4,400, for the “Purple Sparkle” tree donated by Miller Well Services and bought by Barber Motors. The second-highest price paid for a tree was close, at $4,000, for the tree donated by Barber Motors and bought by Minard’s Leisure World.
The TV, which was donated by PAR Contracting, was sold twice, first to Kal Tire for $850, and after it was donated back to be resold, was bought for $700 by Great Plains Ford.

article continues below