Fantasy of Trees: giving others the gift of a holiday

Photo Credit: Emma Shappley on Unsplash

Photo Credit: Emma Shappley on Unsplash

This year’s Fantasy of Trees will mark 20 years since it started being held in Grimsby. The family-friendly experience is held to raise funds and collect donations for over 10 recipient charities while additionally building a strong sense of community and community wide support for those in need.

From November 22 to December 8, people can go to the Grimsby Museum to sponsor a tree, wreath or urn that they can choose to decorate themselves or have the Rotary club decorate. Additionally, there will be opportunities to donate items that will be entered into a raffle or attendees can simply enjoy the display. There are more than 40 trees, 20 wreaths and 25 items in the raffle, tickets for which will be going for one for $10 and three for $20. There are also trees and wreaths for auction and more than 40 items for individuals to bid on. Since it is free admission, the Fantasy of Trees event raises money through the purchasing of raffle tickets and participation in the auction and donations, which sponsors can choose to direct to any of the charities listed on the Fantasy of Trees lottery license. Last year’s event saw more than 3,000 adults and children attend over the two weeks and $20,000 was raised to support local charities.

This event seeks to connect recipients directly with the sponsors and encourage as much community engagement as possible. Quite often, in order to get charities involved in the event, the trees are donated by sponsors and are then decorated by the recipients. For example, this year the tree sponsored by Grimsby Hyundai, the lead sponsor of the event, is being decorated by the Foundation of Resources for Teens of West Niagara charity. In addition, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Grimsby also participate by sending a big and little brother or sister to the event to decorate trees while McNally House Hospice creates decorations. These are all charities that are recipients of the money and donations collected by the Fantasy of Trees event.

“I did a survey three years ago and I asked attendees what brought them to the Fantasy of Trees, why they came. And they said community, it is very much a supportive community. They talked about it being a fun event and something shared by family and friends, so a social event as well,” said Marilyn Cornwell, chair of Fantasy of Trees at the Rotary Club of Grimsby.

Fantasy of Trees gives back to the community, allowing many to experience the holidays in a way that they would otherwise not have been able to.

Many of the charities involved consider the event to be of great importance.

“Last Holiday season, the Fantasy of Trees was very generous and donated a fully decorated tree to one of our residential clients. This was particularly meaningful to her for several reasons. She is the mom of three children under 12; this was the first Christmas that she would be spending the day with them and the first Christmas tree that they had ever had,” said a representative from Gillian’s Place West, one of the recipient charities. “Her abuser had always forced her to work on Christmas day and never allowed them a tree. The gift of that fully decorated tree was such an emotional and wonderful experience for her and her children that she kept the tree up and decorated until spring.”

“It is hard to find these stories and then once you do find them it is important to highlight them because that is the value of the Fantasy of Trees,” said Cornwell.

The event is not just about raising money or giving to charity, but about making an impact on people’s lives, getting involved in a community and having fun.

Individuals who want to attend, donate to, or sponsor the Fantasy of Trees event are encouraged to visit www.fantasyoftrees.ca/ for more information.

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