A Different Way
To Celebrate Festival
The University Hospital Foundation’s Festival of Trees wouldn’t exist without the dedicated and passionate volunteers – usually over 2,500 of them – that help organize and run the event each year. Although this year looks different with the Festival going virtual, it is still here thanks to the support of our devoted volunteers.
We sat down with three members of the Festival Steering Committee, Beryl Bacchus, Karey Heard and Kelly Scott-Gray, to learn more about why they love Festival of Trees and what we can look forward to this year.
Beryl first became involved with the Festival in 2012, starting as the Gala Evening & Auction chair. In 2018, she took on the additional role of Festival of Trees Chair. She has also been on the University Hospital Foundation’s Board since 2018, serving on the Funding Priorities Committee as well.
Karey has been the co-chair of the Luncheon & Fashion show since 2018. This year, she has taken on the role of Decorated and Delivered Chair.
Kelly became involved with the Festival as Co-Chair for the Silver Bell Soiree event which premiered in 2018, and since early 2020 became a member of the executive committee for the Festival of Trees.
For these three, the fundraising and being able to give back to the community is a big part of what makes the University Hospital Foundation’s Festival of Trees so special.
Beryl: My favourite part of volunteering is knowing we are making an impact in the community and a part of bringing innovative healthcare to Edmonton that helps saves lives.
Karey: I love the fact I can help raise money for the University Hospital Foundation every year by just volunteering my time.
Kelly: Raising funds for such important causes makes a huge difference for many members of our community, and improves the healthcare system of our province.
But that’s not all that makes Festival special.
Karey: I was in awe of the Festival the first time I went. I thought the event was magical. I’d never seen anything like it.
Kelly: We get to think about Christmas all year round. Seeing the creative ideas the team comes up with every year, and watching it come to life, is amazing.
Beryl: Festival of Trees has a special place in the hearts of so many Edmontonians – it reaches such a diverse community. I love the relationship building that happens every year.
Karey: It is one of the largest and oldest running Festivals in our city. The volunteers are so friendly, it’s like an extended family. I’m proud to help continue the tradition of the event and bringing the holiday magic to Edmonton.
Planning for this year’s event had to be completely rethought as soon as COVID-19 was detected in Alberta, and the team had to make the decision to cancel the in-person events. Volunteers knew that they would have to adjust and come up with a new plan with the University Hospital Foundation team. The Steering Committee quickly met to brainstorm.
Beryl: Our steering committee chairs are extremely creative. There were lots of ideas, and it took a few meetings to iron out the details. We chose initiatives that generally reflect the experience of Festival, but in a safe, and virtual way. Activities include live one-on-one or pre-recorded group visits with Santa, Storytime with Mrs. Claus, an online auction, decorated and delivered trees, and Festival in a Box for children and adults, where the spirt of Festival is delivered right to your door.
Committee chairs and volunteers have been putting in long hours of work to pull off this year’s activities. Planning for Festival usually begins right after the last of the decorations are packed up from the previous year. This year is almost like planning an entirely new event, but with less time.
Beryl: We’re fortunate to have a steering committee that comes with years of experience and a diverse skill set. With that, they have been very quick to adapt to this new way of executing Festival for 2020. They have really shown their passion for the event and cause.
This year, the University Hospital Foundation’s Festival of Trees is raising funds to support Alzheimer’s disease research. This research could be life changing not just for Edmontonians and Albertans, but for millions of people around the world.
You can book your virtual experiences today HERE and help support this ground-breaking research.
Beryl: We want to send a big thank you to all of our supporters – the community that supports us – the volunteers, the businesses, and the donors and participants. We could not create this magical event and continue to raise funds for the University Hospital Foundation year after year without you!
Our volunteers will miss seeing everyone at the kick-off to the holiday season in person, but we hope everyone has a happy and healthy holidays. We look forward to celebrating virtually with everyone this year.
Kelly: I’m excited to see the community get into celebrating the season in a different way this year. I’m sure there will be a lot of creative ways people respond! I hope everyone can celebrate the spirit of the Festival within their bubbles, and support us however they can.
Karey: I’m actually having a “Festival in a Box” (Adult) virtual party with my friends that I am looking forward to. I know that my friends that have small children are really looking forward to the “Festival in a Box” (Kids) and booking Santa Time. I also LOVE silent auctions and look forward to participating in many bidding wars at the online silent auction.
Visit festivaloftrees.ca to learn more about all of the activities available this year.