Festival of light, hope and trees
First Festival of Trees sponsored by Hand in Hand Ministries
By Tara DeRock Mahoney
Senior Staff Writer
The hot chocolate was frothy, the greenery was spicy and the crowds were curious. A new tradition was born in Morgan County this year, as many local families made their way to the greenery-bedecked winter wonderland that was the area’s first Festival of Trees.
The event was sponsored by a new, local non-profit group, Hand in Hand Ministries. Local businesses and individuals donated 14 decorated trees and 15 wreaths for auction by Hand in Hand. But for the first days of the festival, the conifers are on display for the enjoyment of the public.
“We had a good turn out for our first year and hope for even more next year,” said Meredith Holloway, executive director of Hand in Hand and organizer of the festival.
“The Festival of Trees will be an annual event in Madison, so we hope it will eventually be one of the town’s biggest Christmas happenings.”
Hand in Hand has as its mission the eventual establishment of a pair of community homes for developmentally disabled adults, an under-served segment of the population. Holloway and Hand in Hand co-founders Jean Holder and Fran Holmes have all worked with special-needs children for years; both Holmes and Holloway have siblings who have special needs, and thus understand first-hand the life-long struggles that these individuals and their families face.
Hand in Hand is a 401 (k) non-profit group, operated by a local board of directors.
The Festival of Trees included a raffle of items donated by local businesses such as Petals, Studio Main, Inside Design, Hunkerdowns, The Madison Inn & Conference Center, and House of Ice.
If you didn’t make it this year, go ahead and make a note for early December 2009; Hand in Hand hopes to expand the event with gingerbread houses and maybe—if they can get on the big guy’s schedule—a visit from Santa.