Walking into Westminster’s town mall, many people may be surprised to see an eye-catching seasonal display. Non-profit community outreach organization The Shepherd’s Staff is a “non-denominational faith-based outreach program” that has been around since 1991 and has helped children and adults in the community in numerous ways.
They have found a fun and festive way to spread holiday cheer and help those in need. This fun, visually pleasing, and charitable event is called the“7th Annual 2013 Carroll County Festival of Trees.”
A display of Christmas trees decorated in various ways is set up in front of the department store, Belk. It is free to view the trees, but there are several optional ways to make a monetary donation. Although there are only about 20 or 25 trees set up at the mall’s display, there are over 60 trees to bid on to spread joy.
The first option is to sponsor a tree. The sponsors of the trees had their names on signs under the decorated trees. These sponsors chose to donate anywhere from $200 to $2,000 dollars, depending on the type of tree (blue spruce, scotch pine, etc.) and had their names affiliated with a themed tree. The sponsors also donated gifts to go along with the themes of their trees. For instance, the Ravens-themed tree included an autographed football, a jersey, and a pair of tickets to see the Ravens game against the Patriots. The Toyland-themed tree had a robotic dog that played music along with other toys. The Baltimore Orioles tree came with an autographed baseball, O’s gloves, and other memorabilia.
Rather than spending hundreds, even thousands of dollars sponsoring a tree, the public also has an option to bid on their favorite tree. Each themed tree had a sign-up sheet for bids underneath it, with most of the trees starting around $100. Although the starting bids were reasonable, many bidders staked much more than the minimum on their favorite tree.
Some of the other themes for the trees include “Frosty,” which looked like a big snowman, and “Midnight Clear,” a beautiful white and silver tree that comes with elegant glass figurines, dishware and silver plates. There was also a beautiful gold and orange France-themed tree “Joyeux et Triomphants,” “Candyland,” a tree decorated with pink and blue candy and cupcakes, “Our Heroes, Our Firemen,” which was decorated with mini firemen hats and banners, a Mexican-themed tree called “Feliz Navidad,” and a tree decorated with sock monkeys called “Monkeying Around.”
Another choice was to spend one dollar to vote for your favorite tree, which would also buy a raffle ticket to win one of the beautiful trees. Spending $5 would buy 6 raffle tickets. For hopefuls who would still like to participate in the bidding of these decorated trees, silent auctions occurred between Nov. 29 and Dec. 14. Tree pick up day was Sunday, Dec. 15.
The Shepherd’s Staff also appreciates donations of money, emergency supplies, toys, or home essentials to give to needy families.