Festival of Trees branches out at Bayhealth

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This year’s Festival of Trees features a total of 72 decorated Christmas trees at Kent General and Milford Memorial Hospitals.

DOVER –– Since 2007 festive Christmas trees have lined the corridors of Bayhealth Kent General and Milford Memorial during the holiday season for the “Festival of Trees” and this year, the event is bigger than ever.

Eight years ago, the tradition started with only 11 trees but this year, for the ninth annual, there are a total of 72 –– 51 at Kent General and 21 at Milford Memorial.

Decorating a tree is an elective opportunity for each department in both hospitals and the majority have chosen to participate this year, some starting their planning as early as July.

“All the departments want their tree to be unique and many of them make ornaments from scratch,” Jane Hewitt organizer of the festival said.

She headed the planning of her department’s tree at Patient Advocacy and chose the theme “Victorian Christmas” and almost every ornament was made by hand.

Some of the departments even form a committee to decide on the theme and coordinate the decoration process so the final product is ready by the Thanksgiving deadline.

The trees will be kept up until Dec. 18 when they are raffled off and awarded to the lucky winners. Hospital visitors and the public are welcome to enter the raffle to win their favorite tree. Tickets are available at both hospitals and each tree has a basket for raffle tickets.

The raffle isn’t only for the trees themselves –– winners get to take home everything including the lights, ornaments and anything under the tree, and there is quite a variety to choose from.

One tree has ornaments containing Legos of all shapes and colors while another one is designed for the outdoors. It’s adorned with bird feeders and comes with plenty of bird seed to keep them full.

The drawing is held at noon on Dec. 18. Raffle tickets can be purchased for $1 each or six for $5 at the Kent General gift shop or the front desk of either hospital.

Proceeds from the Festival of Trees are given to support the Bayhealth Employee Assistance Fund (formerly known as the Bayhealth Chaplaincy Fund). The fund helps Bayhealth employees and their families in medical or financial crises. It is usually utilized by about 15 employees per year. Previous festivals have raised more than $5,000 for the fund and Bayhealth hopes to raise even more this year.

The trees will be on display at both Kent General and Milford Memorial until Dec. 18 when the winners are contacted to pick up their tree.

“It might seem strange to take them down before Christmas but we want to give the winners the opportunity to display them in their home,” Ms. Hewitt said.

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