Hundreds visit sixth annual Festival of Trees
November 19, 2017
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Kids play with an old trapeze toy during the Festival of Trees Saturday at Quality Gardens.

VALENCIA — Hundreds of people visited Hosanna Industries' sixth annual Festival of Trees to benefit local people in need and disaster survivors.

The fundraiser, which featured a silent auction of decorated Christmas trees, was held Thursday through Saturday at Quality Gardens.

Almost 60 trees, many of which were decorated with handmade ornaments and donated by organizations, businesses and residents, were available to the highest bidder. The goal was to raise $20,000.

“We raised $13,000 last year. We're shooting for $20,000 this year,” Amanda Becker, of Hosanna, said Saturday.

New this year was the Giving Tree that allowed people to donate to Hosanna's various charitable efforts such as buying groceries for needy households. Hefren Tillotson matched each donation, Becker said.

“This is kind of a neat way for people to learn about what we do. We help households in need locally and in areas of disaster. We mobilize volunteers and we train people in the mechanical and aesthetic arts,” she said.

Hosanna relies solely on donations to pay for its work and its golf outing is the largest annual fundraiser, she said. Foundation grants and donations from businesses and people also provided funding.

“It's by the grace of God that we can do what we do. People are so generous,” Becker said.

To aid in the effort, people had the opportunity to bid on trees or buy them for the “buy now” price at the festival.

“There's a huge variety of them. Something for everybody. A lot of the ornaments are handmade,” Becker said.

About 400 people visited the festival from Thursday through Saturday morning and another 200 were expected before 3 p.m. Saturday when the auction winners were to be announced.

“It's starting to become a good tradition. Some families come every year,” Becker said.

Quality Gardens owner Tom McMeekin said he is glad to help the community and Hosanna.

“Quality Gardens is really honored to be part of this. Part of our commitment as a company is to support the community. We work to help non-profits and people that do good work. No one does better work that Hosanna so its an honor to be picked to do this,” McMeekin said.

Some people bought poinsettias, wreaths and Christmas trees while they were there, but the three-day event was about Hosanna, he said.

“On a day like this, the focus is on Hosanna. We'll make a donation also,” McMeekin said.

However, he is proud of his business, which is ranked 76th among the 100 top garden centers in the country based on annual sales, he said.

His staff grows 10,000 poinsettias in 30 varieties, handles more than 400 cut Christmas trees and makes live wreaths for the holiday season.

“We do everything except get a good night sleep this time of year,” he said.

He commended Becker for organizing the festival and directing the volunteers that help during the event.

“She's all that and a bag of chips,” he said.

Members of the Pittsburgh Philharmonic — including a former member of the Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh — performed Thursday.

“People were amazed. It was really good,” McMeekin said.

Local entertainers including children also performed during the festival.