ESTEVAN - The St. Joseph's Hospital Foundation Festival of Trees came to an end on Nov. 25 after 10 days filled with wonderful community activities and engagements.
This year Estevan's beloved entertainment and charity fundraiser was held in a mixed format. The Christmas Headquarters set up at the Estevan Market Mall allowed for in-person interaction. People could stop by, support the hospital, view the raffle and auction prizes, pick up art and hot cocoa kits, and just talk to the foundation employees and volunteers.
With no gala again this year to keep it safe for the community, the main auction was held online. All items offered were purchased by the bidders, allowing the Festival of Trees to again raise much-needed funds for the hospital. The Christmas Trees were delivered by Jay's Transportation Group.
Raffle prizes and auction bids were also all brought to new owners on Friday, which was a final accord of the festival.
St. Joseph's Hospital Foundation executive director Breanne Van De Woestyne said the festival was a "huge success" for the foundation. Not only will it help them improve the hospital, but it also allowed for a great time with and for the community.
"It was just a great way to be back into the community again and celebrate the holiday season in our hospital with all of our community supporters from all over southeast Saskatchewan. We were really excited to have the opportunity to be out in the public, to offer some really fun fundraisers and again, just celebrate our hospital," Van De Woestyne said.
She added that seeing people in person was one of the best parts of this year's Festival of Trees. Last year, the entire event was held online, and having in-person activities this year was great.
"This year, we were finally able to see the supporters that we deal with all year round. They all came out, they showed their support. And it was just really nice to see our community out and about again. Just seeing the passion and the support that we have for our hospital was really nice. It definitely was the highlight of the whole week," Van De Woestyne shared.
The space for the headquarters was donated by the Estevan Market Mall, and the foundation was really grateful for that opportunity as it allowed them to be much more community-engaged this holiday season.
"We hopped on that opportunity to be able to have it somewhat in person, and just shake things up a little bit, but still have some of the favourites of our Festival of Trees," Van De Woestyne said. "Having that display for that week and a half and offering the opportunity for people to see the trees in person, to view all the auction prizes, to buy their raffle tickets, to have kids come out and take photos and take part in a couple of festivities, it was just a really great way to offer our fundraiser that's a huge deal for us and our community, but just in a different way that worked with everything that's happening."
And like always, everyone involved with the event did their best. While the hospital foundation offered a lot of great entertainment for people of all ages, the community did their best to support the initiatives.
"The support was amazing. One thing that we learned from having events in the community is the support that we receive is always exceeding our expectations," said Van De Woestyne.
"We had people come in to not only buy raffle tickets or to look at the auction items, but they also did come in and say we're doing a great job, thank you for being back in the community and that they're just excited to be a part of the event again. So the community response has been amazing."
She added that the foundation was able to raise a lot of money, which will help with equipment and important projects at the hospital.
"Those funds will be greatly used within St. Joseph's Hospital and we're very, very grateful for the support that we got from this event," Van De Woestyne said.
"A big thank you to everyone that came out to check out the Christmas Headquarters, who took part in Hometown Fun Day on Sunday, bought raffle tickets, auction items. We're just very, very grateful for the community support that we receive year-round. And to just have our year come to an end on this kind of a highlight is always amazing. And again, our community exceeds our expectations each and every year and we're very, very grateful."