A holiday fundraiser destined to become a Yuletide tradition raised thousands of dollars to benefit Fulton County’s developmentally disabled.
The inaugural Festival of Trees, held Nov. 20-23 at St. Caspar Catholic Church in Wauseon, exceeded all hopes for success, Triangular Processing Inc. CEO/Director Kathy Shaw said. She said the four-day event attracted hundreds of people and shone a light on both the acceptance of those with disabilities and the glow of the Christmas season.
“People see it as a community event,” Shaw said. “They like that it benefits the individuals with disabilities, but they also like that it’s something to bring all of us together in Fulton County around the holidays. I think people want that warm and fuzzy feeling.
“It’s taken off like gangbusters. The whole event has exceeded my expectations.”
Following an opening tree-lighting ceremony attended Nov. 20 by more than 100 people, and an after-hours networking and social reception the next day, 184 people attended the Sugar Plum Ball last Friday. Participating in the auction of 30 theme-decorated Christmas trees with minimum bids of $250, they raised $18,000. Tree themes included the Ohio State and Michigan football programs, firefighters, a nutcracker tree, and a glass tree.
Each tree retailed for about $350 without decorations, so “even if they started at the minimum bid they’re getting more than their money’s worth,” Shaw said.
At a children’s breakfast with Santa Claus on Saturday, 190 meals were served.
The total net proceeds of the events were not available at press time.
The purpose of Festival of Trees was to raise money for non-profit Triangular Processing to assist with services to individual disabilities that are government-mandated but not entirely covered by federal funding. The proceeds will benefit day programming, community employment, transportation, the Special Olympics, and recreational events, among other needs.
Shaw said proceeds will also offset the cost of paying Triangular Processing workers a minimum wage. She said paying employees with Medicaid dollars is prohibited.
“We just don’t get enough government funding to cover everything that we have to do,” she said.
Festival of Trees Committee co-chair Mary Stefko said she couldn’t have been more satisfied with the events’ outcomes.
“I was blown away by the community all coming together to support every event every night and Saturday morning,” she said.
Sponsorships from North Star Bluescope Steel, First Federal Bank, Farmers and Merchants State Bank, Andres, O’Neil and Lowe Insurance Co., and Shultz, Huber, and Associates ensured the occasion’s success, Shaw said.
“They did this for TPI, but they also did it for the Fulton County community because they knew that this was going to be more than a fundraising event,” she said.
Reach David J. Coehrs at 419-335-2010.