News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Local & Bistate

November 27, 2013

Schools fill Honey Creek Mall with trees

TERRE HAUTE — For the second year, the Vigo County School Corp. is co-sponsoring a Festival of Trees at Honey Creek Mall to raise money for its backpack program and the Shoe Bus, which benefit needy children.

Twenty schools participated and decorated 21 trees with various themes, including West Vigo Middle School’s Super Bowl Trophy Tree, McLean High School’s Pink Frost and Dixie Bee’s Buzzing around the Holidays.

The decorated, artificial trees have been set up in the wing between J.C. Penney’s and Carson’s, with public display starting Friday and continuing through Dec. 7, when the trees will be raffled at 1:30 p.m.

Raffle tickets are $1 each or six for $5, said event organizer Christy Ellis, art teacher at McLean High School. “We thought we could make more money” by raffling the trees, she said.

Last year, people could purchase tickets and vote for their favorites, but the trees were not raffled.

Starting Friday, organizers will have a table set up near the trees where people can purchase raffle tickets, Ellis said. Hours will be 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday; noon to 6 p.m. Saturday and noon to 4 p.m. Sunday. The table also will be set up weekday evenings for limited hours.

When the table is not staffed, people can purchase raffle tickets at Chelsea’s and Merle Norman as well as the individual schools or at McLean High School, which can be contacted at 812-462-4330.

On Dec. 7, there will be holiday festivities starting at 11 a.m. leading up to the raffle, Ellis said. The Terre Haute North Vigo High School choir will perform,, and Starbucks will provide free coffee. There will be an arts and crafts table and additional entertainment.

The raffle of trees will be at 1:30 p.m. People don’t have to be present to win, but if trees are not picked up by 2:30 p.m., the  trees will be transported to McLean High School, where winners can pick them up between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m. the following week.

Kim Ingalsbe, mall general manager, said of the Festival of Trees, “We’re thrilled to have them. It draws a lot of attention down this wing. And any time we can do anything with the school corporation, we’re on board,” she said.

Last year, the event raised about $5,600, Ellis said. Proceeds help fund two programs, the VCSC backpack program and Shoe Bus. “It’s important to sustain those programs,” she said.

The backpack program, which costs about $1,500 each week, sends food home with students each weekend, while the Shoe Bus provides footwear and socks to children in need.

Ellis decorated the McLean tree with the theme, Pink Frost. “I just love seeing it all come together,” Ellis said. “I’m very proud of all these trees and proud of what everybody has done.”

Many children made ornaments for the trees.

The project brings the community as well as students and staff together. “There is a lot of meaning in this,” Ellis said. “There is a spirit to it.”

On Wednesday morning, two teachers from Sugar Creek Consolidated, Bryttany Morris and Jeanne Endress, decorated the school’s tree, titled, “Have a sugar sweet Christmas.”

All students at the school made paper ornaments that included their photos, and the teachers placed them on the tree and on a skirt under the tree. The paper ornaments included stars, Christmas trees, gingerbread men, snowflakes and poinsettias.

“We wanted to support the fundraiser,” Endress said. Morris added, “I think it goes to a good cause.”

Hoosier Prairie’s theme was “A Homespun Christmas in the Prairie,” while Honey Creek Middle School’s tree was titled, “Walking in a Winter Candyland.” Farrington Grove Elementary had a tree decorated to look like a snowman, compete with a scarf, hat, carrot nose and button mouth.

Fuqua’s tree featured a mustache theme, “Stache”ing through the Snow, and Terre Haute North Vigo’s tree used recycled materials.

Other sponsors include craft store business Jeffrey Alans, the mall and Ellis Law.

Sue Loughlin can be reached at 812-231-4235 or sue.loughlin@tribstar.com.

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