HELENA — Set up for the annual Festival of Trees is in full swing. Dozens were working hard to get their trees ready for the event which begins Wednesday, November 29.
Intermountain’s 36th annual Festival of Trees runs From November 29 through December 3. The Helena Civic Center Ballroom will host various tree-themed events. Events will feature live music, an auction, craft-making, cookie decorating, and more.
Christy McCauley has been decorating trees with her family for this event for about 10 years. In an attempt to one-up themselves from the year before, every year they pick a theme and go in with an intention of what kind of award they may want to win. This year, they worked with an Alice in Wonderland theme in hopes of attaining the Children’s Choice award.
“We decided this year was going to be our best. We say that every year. But, I mean, and so, you know, we just try to surpass last year’s success,” says McCauley.
McCauley also has a personal connection to this event. Her grandfather actually lived at the Montana Deaconess School before it was Intermountain. She says that participating in this event is a great way to honor him.
“His dad had died. His mom couldn’t afford to feed them. So, he and his brother and sister stayed there for a while. And yeah, and so, yeah, this is our way of giving to the community just like he would have,” says McCauley.
Money raised during this multi-day-long event helps support Intermountain, a non-profit focused on providing mental and behavioral health treatment to youth, children, and families.
Erin Benedict, Chief Communications Officer for Intermountain says that money garnered from the Festival of Trees funds Intermountain’s efforts not only in Helena but throughout the state
The festival also comes shortly after Intermountain announced it would continue to keep one of its Helena residential cottages open following an announcement in September that all cottages would temporarily close.
Benedict acknowledged the challenges faced by Intermountain’s Helena residential program this year and says supporting the festival is a way to support Intermountain and all its programs.
“We do have one cottage open right now at our residential program. We’re working to open another one, hopefully, if we can get staffing numbers up. But a donation to Intermountain means so much more. It goes to so many other programs including our outpatient services which include speech therapy, occupational therapy, outpatient therapy, case management, and psych med management. So, we serve about 600 clients a month through our other outpatient services across Montana,” says Benedict.