Festival of Trees breaks fundraising record

The Northern Lights Health Foundation raises over $549,000 at annual event

By KIRAN MALIK-KHAN, Connect Contributor

Northern Lights Health Foundation representatives Dan Fouts, Peter Read, Melanie Antoine, John and Leslie Wilson, Gord Ball and Susanne Chaffey at the 2015 Festival of Trees gala on November 21. PHOTO: Kiran Malik-Khan, Connect Weekly

Northern Lights Health Foundation representatives Dan Fouts, Peter Read, Melanie Antoine, John and Leslie Wilson, Gord Ball and Susanne Chaffey at the 2015 Festival of Trees gala on November 21. PHOTO: Kiran Malik-Khan, Connect Weekly

In a difficult year where “economic downturn” has become a familiar mantra – the Northern Lights Regional Health Foundation has tons to celebrate thanks to a record-breaking Festival of Trees. The three-day event raised over $549,000 for the Foundation with the live auction alone bringing in $409,000 – a first for the event.

Additionally, the three ticketed events were sold out in advance and a tree donated by Finning (Canada) sold for $55,000 following a feisty bidding war. The festival, presented by Syncrude Canada was kicked off with a Ladies’ Holiday Luncheon on November 20, 2015, followed by the signature Gala at MacDonald Island on November 21. A Family Skating Party, Ugly Christmas Sweater Party, Christmas Family Fun with Santa, and weekend-long Santa’s Workshop and Gift Shop rounded out the festivities.

“Over the past 26 years, the Festival of Trees has raised over six and a half million (net) for local health care, with over 30,000 volunteer hours invested by thousands of community members.”

“Over the past 26 years, the Festival of Trees has raised over six and a half million (net) for local health care, with over 30,000 volunteer hours invested by thousands of community members,” according to the official news release.
Susanne Chaffey, Executive Director, NLHF, thanked the community for supporting the event at the Gala.

“It is wonderful to see so many faces joining us to kick-off the holiday season. Funds raised by the Foundation support vital pieces of medical equipment, programs, and services,” explained Chaffey. “We’re thrilled by how well the Festival was received by our community,” said Melanie Antoine, Chair of the Health Foundation’s Board of Directors.

“The event continues to grow year after year, with new and returning faces. We cannot thank our community members enough for helping us achieve a record breaking year!” Enthused Antoine, who is the first female and also the first Aboriginal chair for the organization.

“We want to extend a huge thank you to Syncrude Canada. Since 1988 they have invested over $4.44M in health care initiatives. What is most exciting for us is their continued commitment. Tonight I’m proud to announce Syncrude has renewed its commitment to the Foundation as presenting sponsors for the Festival of Trees, and Spring Fling for another year, and for years to come,” added Chaffey.

The Festival of Trees is put together by a planning committee of 20 community volunteers, and a total of 130 volunteers made the event happen this year.

The Gala also saw the induction of three honorary NLHF board members: husband, and wife duo, John and Leslie Wilson, and Gord Ball.

Founded in 1985, the NLHF raises funds to support health care initiatives in the Municipality.

– Connect Weekly –