Annual Festival of Trees held virtually for second year in a row

Local News

PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — Crittenton Centers scatters 80 Christmas trees across Peoria this November, spreading holiday cheer while raising money for life-saving services.

The 13th Annual Festival of Lights event is the organization’s largest fundraising event, which raised over $150,000 last year. The money raised from the tickets and décor purchased goes towards services that protect and support local families in crisis.

The event is virtual again this year, offering activities like their Jingle and Mingle Dinner and Bremer Jewelry raffle, a live auction, and a free tree scavenger hunt. Sandy Garza, the organization’s Development Director, said every ticket pays for vital supplies and services, things that she said have become more expensive in the past year.

“We need to provide transportation, classes, and materials,” Garza said. “More families are in need because of the increased expenses of everything.”

Garza said the average cost for their crisis nursery, alone, is $1,800 a day. She said the support from the community allows them to continue their important work. She said they hope to raise $150,000 again this year.

“Every single dollar raised goes to support local children and families in crisis, to prevent a parental crisis from becoming a child’s crisis,” Garza said. “Parents are under a lot of stress right now, and they are calling asking for help, and we are able to say ‘yes.'”

Garza said if you win a tree this year, but decide you don’t need another tree in your house, you can donate it to charities in the area.

“For example, the Dream Center is accepting approximately 16 of the tabletop trees if people win them,” Garza said. “So you’re helping Crittenton Centers and the families at Dream Center.”

The Jingle and Mingle Dinner is on Nov. 18, and tickets are on sale until Nov 15. People can participate in the live auction starting Nov. 18 and the scavenger hunt goes until Nov. 21.

To learn more about the Festival of Trees, go here.

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