Give back at Festival of Trees

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As the year comes to a close, the holidays remind us to reach out and make a difference in our communities. Following that tradition, The Gazette is pleased to again partner with the Cedar Rapids Jaycees to bring the Festival of Trees to Cedar Rapids on Saturday and Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day at Hawkeye Downs.

This free community event promises to be fun for the whole family but also will offer a number of ways for individuals to give back and benefit nonprofit charities right here in Eastern Iowa. Moving to the new location of Hawkeye Downs, 4400 Sixth St. SW, allows for free parking and for easier access for families in the Corridor.

More than 50 decorated Christmas trees and wreaths will be on display inside the main hall. Trees have been decorated by local businesses and organizations in a wide variety of themes. Many of these trees will be available for purchase through a silent auction, with the proceeds benefiting local charities, including Toys for Tots, HACAP’s Adopt a Family, Shoes for Kids, the Cedar Rapids Jaycees Dream Makers Program and the Greater Cedar Rapids Community Foundation.

Silent auction trees will start at $50 and must increase by $5 increments. Thanks to the Cedar Rapids Jaycees, you can receive a text message if you’ve been outbid. Our staff of volunteers will help make sure you get the tree you want.

Last year, some of the tree themes included Christmas Cinema Classics, The Dark Knight Before Christmas, Seas and Greetings, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas, Black & Gold and many more. Trees in the auction range from 6.5 feet to 9 feet tall.

Our presenting sponsors, Alliant Energy and Cedar Rapids Area Association of Realtors, also will be donating two trees to not-for-profits in the community, including Especially for You and Gems of Hope. These trees also will be available through silent auction, with the proceeds benefiting those organizations specifically.

Enjoy holiday-inspired music on the Siegel’s stage by local performers as you wander through the hall of trees. Stop in Spielman’s North Pole and participate in the coloring contest, plus make time to visit with Santa, thanks to Nordstrom’s. And don’t miss our holiday marketplace, featuring local small businesses where you can start your holiday shopping.

We hope you’ll make plans to attend the Festival of Trees from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. In the spirit of giving, we will be accepting donations of unwrapped, new toys for Toys for Tots and non-perishable food items.

For more information on the Festival of Trees, visit thegazette.com/2017FestivalofTrees.

• Elizabeth Kimmel is The Gazette’s event manager. Karen Klinkefus is a special sections editor at The Gazette.

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