In a place like Smithers, all the snow can make you feel like it’s Christmas early.
But so can the Town’s annual Festival of Trees, held at Glacier Toyota’s showroom off Hwy 16.
The annual event raises money through a silent auction which is divided between two seperate charities: the local Salvation Army and the Bulkley Valley Child Development Centre (BVCDC), a non-profit which offers services and programs to children and families in the region.
The twist is that unlike a standard auction, the festival includes a number of trees and wreaths donated by local businesses and individuals.
A number of items (everything from gift cards, to memorabilia to a mini-fridge filled with craft beer) are placed under or on the tree and individuals or businesses are able to bid for the display in its entirety.
This year Glacier Toyota is creating a Lego-themed tree, as they have done in years past.
Glacier Toyota’s General Manager Scott Olesiuk said the idea for Festival of Trees came from a festival based on the same concept that Prince George puts on at its civic centre.
Olesiuk said Glacier Toyota saw the festival and wanted to replicate it in Smithers.
This meant recruiting other business organizations, with Olesiuk noting the entire thing has been a real team effort and Glacier Toyota is very proud to be able to host the event in their showroom.
“The reason for Festival of Trees was, in my mind, during Christmas a lot of people are enticed to go out-of-town to do Christmas shopping or go to Christmas-themed events,” he said.
“The more opportunity we have to keep people in our Valley with exciting Christmas events and shopping, the better it is for our local businesses.”
Last year they raised $35,000.
“That was based on a huge, huge involvement with our community with people that came out that had never been a part of it before and others that had been a part of it from the start.”
This year, they’re going for an even more ambitious goal: $50,000.
“It’s been four years of a huge success rallying businesses and individuals from all different lines of work and industries [so] we’re excited to put a 50k target there, we are excited of what that can do for the not-for-profits like Salvation Army and the Bulkley Valley Child Development Centre.
“I think 25k each would be huge for their organizations and there’s no better time to bless them than at the Christmas season.”
Olesiuk said in recent years simple items such as Christmas baked goods have done very well in silent auctions and is asking people to consider providing smaller items such as these if they are unable to commit to a tree.
He also said one of the great things about the festival is the people who win a tree can then re-gift those items.
In essence, it’s a gift that keeps on giving.
“We’ve seen so many unique ways that people have bought the tree … and given the tree to somebody else, so Salvation Army goes and gives it away, it’s just been really, really cool how it’s trickled down.
Olesiuk said while they have no plans to stop donating to the Salvation Army or BVCDC, they have discussed adding a third charity in the future if they felt it could be supported.
“If we get to a point where we raise 50, 75, $100,000, you know, maybe everybody gets $33,000 … that’s the dream, right?”
The event runs from Nov. 29 to Dec. 7 and will also feature a week’s worth of evening performances at the Glacier Toyota dealership in Smithers, including the Smithers Secondary School jazz band on Nov. 29 from 7-8 p.m. and a “Wine, Cheese, and Auction” night Dec. 5 from 7-9 p.m.
Anyone interested in getting involved in this year’s event can contact firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com for further information.