The United Way of Southern West Virginia is in full-out preparation mode for its 11th annual Wonderland of Trees fundraiser.
The 2019 event opens to the public Saturday, Nov. 9, at J.W. and Hazel Ruby Welcome Center in Mount Hope.
A Business After Hours event will be hosted by the Beckley-Raleigh and Fayette County Chamber of Commerce Friday, Nov. 8, from 5 to 6:30 p.m.
Business After Hours attendees can view the trees prior to the event opening to the public.
Area businesses, individuals, churches and schools purchase and decorate the 7.5-inch pre-lit trees — all for a good cause.
The cost of a tree is $150 this year. All trees will be set up and ready for participants to come in and decorate Nov. 7.
“Last year we had 37 trees and this year we’ll have close to 42,” said Kacy Burgess, executive assistant for the United Way of Southern West Virginia.
The United Way has seen everything from West Virginia University themed trees with season sporting event tickets to trees with kitchenware and even a dirt bike.
Area businesses like Walmart have decorated a tree with new gaming systems and televisions they’ve donated.
“You never know what you’re going to get,” Burgess said.
One guarantee is that all the trees are tastefully decorated and enjoyable to see, the United Way of Southern West Virginia says.
“It’s really a great event to get into the Christmas spirit,” Burgess said.
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This year’s Wonderland of Trees will feature a fall festival with local artisans and vendors and free holiday movie screenings of “Grinch,” “Santa Paws” and “Polar Express.”
A mailbox will be on site for children to drop off letters to Old Saint Nick, along with s’mores, a bonfire, wagon rides, a visit from Santa Claus and a variety of local entertainment.
“This is just a very fun family and community fundraiser that we do,” said Burgess. “It’s an event that’s free of charge. Anyone can come out and look at the trees. There is no cover fee to come in.”
Attendees can vote for their favorite trees at the event by making a $1 donation to the United Way.
“We will have it open for two weeks,” said Burgess. “Anyone can come in and vote during those two weeks.”
All the trees displayed will be sold during a live auction Friday, Nov. 22, at 6 p.m.
“Some will go for a few hundred dollars and we’ve had trees go as high as $7,000,” Burgess said.
All money raised from Wonderland of Trees goes toward an annual campaign fund, allowing United Way of Southern West Virginia to serve more than 42 nonprofit partners in Raleigh, Fayette, Summers, Wyoming, Nicholas, Mercer and McDowell counties as well as the town of Bluefield, Va.
For additional information, visit unitedwayswv.org/wonderland or call 304-253-2111.
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Wonderland of Trees Event Schedule
11/4 - noon Trees delivered and decorating begins
11/7 - 4 p.m. Decorating ends
11/8 - 5 p.m.-6:30 p.m. Business After Hours
11/9 - 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Opening Day Fall Harvest Fest and Craft Fair
11/10 - Fall Harvest Fest Day 2, Bonfire, S’Mores
2 p.m. - Movie: “Polar Express” with cookies and hot chocolate
11/11 to 11/14 - Local entertainment (see schedule for more details)
11/15 6 & 7 p.m. - Nutcracker treats from Beckley Dance Theater School
11/16 11 a.m. - Local entertainment
1 p.m. - Storytelling by Read Aloud WV of Fayette County
2 p.m. - Free Cookie Decorating (donations by Sam’s Club)
2 p.m.-5 p.m. - Free Santa visits
5:30 p.m. - Nutcracker Treats from Beckley Dance Theater School
11/17 2 p.m. - Movie: “Grinch” with popcorn
11/18 - 5:30-7 p.m. Beckley Area Foundation Awards
11/19 - 6 p.m. Calvary Baptist Hand Bell Choir
11/20 - 5:30 p.m. Dancing With The Stars Video Debut Party
11/22 - 6 p.m. Live Tree Auction