Festival of Trees fundraiser kicks off Wednesday


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The team from Habitat for Humanity of the Sandhills used a white extension cord wrapped in red tinsel as garland. The framed photos on the tree are of new Habitat homeowners.

It took four hours and a lot of creativity for the Habitat for Humanity of the Sandhills team to complete their Christmas tree.

The garland is simply a long, white extension cord wrapped in festive red tinsel and the tree’s topper is four ordinary wall bracket fastened together to create a shining star.

It’s one of nearly 200 unique trees that will be on display during the 18th annual Festival of Trees at the Carolina Hotel.

The festival kicks off Wednesday with a tree lighting ceremony at 10:15 a.m. It runs through Sunday with a special event each day. Click here to view the schedule.

During the event, people will have the chance to purchase the decorated trees through an online auction. The proceeds will benefit the Sandhills Children’s Center, which provides educational programs and therapeutic services to help children with disabilities such as Down syndrome, autism and cerebral palsy.

Teresa Copper, director of events and community relations, said the festival serves as the non-profit’s largest fundraiser, accounting for nearly 10 percent of the center’s annual operating budget. About $220,000 was raised last year, but Copper is hoping the new online bidding process will increase that figure by $100,000.

“It’s really spectacular,” she said. “When we started the festival 18 years ago, we only had 32 trees.”

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Teresa Copper, director of events and community relations for Sandhills Children’s Center, decorates her “Big Bang Theory” tree Monday.

Each of the trees have themes that are carried out in elaborate fashion.

The Habitat team chose “I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” so the bottom of the tree is surrounded by donated houseware essentials and kitchen gadgets.

“All of this would be great for a person who is moving into a new home,” said Erin Hairston, Habitat’s volunteer coordinator.

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The Habitat for Humanity tree features an “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” theme with houseware items and kitchen gadgets.

The tree itself is decorated with tools and framed photos of homeowners Habitat has helped within the past year or so.

Hairston said this is the first time Habitat has participated in the festival, but it’s likely not the last.

“We like to give back when we can and this is truly a great cause,” she said.

For Lynn Melton, the festival is a fun way to help a worthy organization.

“It’s really the beginning of the holiday season in the Sandhills,” she said.

Nancy Oakley was hooked after decorating her first tree 17 years ago.

“It just feels good to be part of this,” she said. “The minute it’s over I start thinking about next year.”

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The Pinehurst Resort tree is simple and elegant.