By Brandi Underwood
With the sound of jingle bells ringing right around the corner, the Nissan showroom at Lewis Automotive has been repurposed to embrace the upcoming season of giving.
Beginning Thursday, the showroom swapped out its sparking automobiles and replaced them with something even more eye-catching: rows on rows of bedazzled Christmas trees.
Candy-colored garland, shimmery tinsel and ornaments of all shapes, sizes and varieties now garnish the showroom floor as part of The Wonderland of Trees, a special fundraising event for the United Way of Southern West Virginia. The gallery of Christmas trees will be auctioned off at 5:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 22, with all proceeds benefiting the nonprofit organization and its many causes.
A special sneak peak of the event took place Thursday night as part of the Beckley-Raleigh County Chamber of Commerce’s monthly Business After Hours event, a special networking opportunity for chamber members to mix and mingle.
Many of the BRCCC members present actually had a hand in decorating the Christmas trees donated on behalf of their businesses.
A few of the eye-catching trees include “A Very Beary Christmas” presented by United Bank, which is covered with tiny plush teddy bears; the super sweet “Candy Land Christmas” presented by Sweet Frog; and “Nancy Pat’s Fancy Pants Christmas” presented by Lewis, which pays tribute to the late Nancy Pat Lewis.
The tree was actually painted blue by the Lewis body shop, which took more than four hours, explained Sarah Abrams, public relations manager for Lewis.
With the event now in its fifth year, Margaret Ann O’Neal, executive director for the United Way of Southern West Virginia, says she attributes the success to the local businesses that put so much effort into producing a showpiece Christmas tree.
“I think it gives people a real chance to shine and show their creativity,” O’Neal said.
For the next two weeks, the public can stop by Lewis and peruse the rows of unique Christmas trees.
The Walmart in MacArthur decorated a “Duck Dynasty” themed tree, complete with authentic beehive and bearded ornaments.
“It’s a good family environment. There’s no cost, and you don’t have to make a donation if you want to just come and check out the trees,” O’Neal explained.
However, those interested in making donations to the United Way can do so through casting their vote for the People’s Choice Tree, which will be announced on the evening of the auction. Those entering a people’s choice vote will also be entered to win a 32-inch television from National Furniture and Electronics.
Last year’s people’s choice winner was the local Girl Scouts chapter. Their win was rewarded with a special hand-etched ornament made to honor their achievement. Created by local artisan Doug Coleman, the glass ornament features the Girl Scout logo. The ornaments are currently for sale at Lewis Automotive, and all proceeds benefit the United Way.
For those who shy away from the live auction events, O’Neal explained that tabletop trees and wreaths are up for silent auction for the next two weeks.
All people have to do is drop by the showroom and place their bid in a box, she said.
The Wonderland of Trees is open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily and from 1 to 5 p.m. Sundays.
“We want everyone to stop by, look around and get into the holiday spirit with us,” Abrams said.
Votes for people’s choice can be placed at Lewis Automotive, online at www.unitedwayswv.org and at the individual business sponsoring the tree.
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