By Carra Higgins
Christmas is coming early this year at Lewis Automotive — United Way’s Fourth Annual Wonderland of Trees will be set up and ready to decorate Oct. 29 in the Suzuki showroom.
“It feels like the perfect place to showcase our beautiful Christmas trees,” United Way of Southern West Virginia Executive Director Margaret O’Neal said. “A big open space with great windows and lots of parking makes an ideal place to display our trees and hold our auction.”
For the past three years, the Wonderland of Trees has been housed in a vacant part of the Crossroads Mall. This year, however, the mall is at capacity, so the United Way had to search for a new venue.
Sarah Abrams and Rachel Hopkins offered to host the event in Lewis Automotive’s Suzuki showroom, and O’Neal thought it would be an excellent location.
“We’re huge United Way supporters,” Abrams said. “We thought it would be a great location since there were no open spaces at the mall.”
The Wonderland will have 50 trees, half of which have already been sold, but O’Neal said the United Way is still looking for additional businesses or organizations that would like to participate.
Trees, which are 7.5 feet and pre-lit, can be sponsored for $125. They will be set up and ready to decorate by noon Oct. 29 and decorations must be completed by 4 p.m. Nov. 1.
The decorated Wonderland of Trees will be on display Nov. 2-16. Visitors can vote for their favorite tree for a $1 donation to the United Way. Votes may also be cast online this year at www.wonderlandoftrees.org. Voters will be registered to win a flat-screen television for each vote.
Also during the two-week display, collector edition tree ornaments will be available for purchase. Ornaments from the first three years will be available, plus a new ornament based on the people’s choice award winner from last year, which was the T&K Karts and Hobbies Airplane-themed tree.
All four glass ornaments are hand-crafted by Tamarack artisan Doug Coleman.
“We feel like adding these collector ornaments, designed and created by a West Virginia artist, has been a huge success,” O’Neal said.
Last year, the event raised nearly $40,000 for the United Way, but the goal this year is to increase that amount by at least $5,000.
The live auction will be at 5:30 p.m. Nov. 16. For trees that auction for $750 or more, the United Way will deliver the tree to the winner’s destination of choice. Trees can also be donated to those in need.
“This is a great way for the community to get into the Christmas spirit,” O’Neal said.
For more information, call 304-253-2111 or visit www.wonderlandoftrees. org.
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