BGCA hosts annual Festival of Trees, market

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The fourth annual Boys and Girls Club of Airdrie (BGCA) Festival of Trees and Holiday Market Nov 30 and Dec. 1 will give Airdronians a chance to complete some holiday shopping while supporting an important local organization.

“Ours is a one-of-a-kind market,” said Kathy Richter, BGCA’s manager of events and volunteers. “You get beautiful trees, you get vendors to do all your Christmas shopping, and there’s something for the kids, as well.”

The event takes place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at BGCA’s headquarters at 200 East Lake Crescent, and features three distinct components.

First, there’s the Festival of Trees. According to Richter, four groups – BGCA, Rocket Fizz, Airdrie Auto Body and McKee Homes – have sponsored Christmas trees that will be decorated by the organizations and displayed throughout the event. Some businesses, she added, choose to also place gifts on or under the tree.

“A member of the community will come in, purchase a raffle ticket for $5 in hopes of winning the tree,” she said. “We have four trees this year, so there’s four different boxes.”

Each tree has a corresponding box, and entrants can purchase as many tickets as they like to enter to win their desired tree. At 3 p.m. Dec. 1, the winners will be drawn. The lucky entrant receives the tree, all its decorations and any gifts underneath it.

“They’re beautiful trees,” Richter said. “It certainly puts you in the festive mood.”

Meanwhile, 25 vendors will set up for a Christmas market, selling a range of items, including men’s shaving products, candles, handmade jewelery, wood signs, Christmas decor, candy and treats. Santa Claus will be at the market both days between 1 and 3 p.m. to take photos with children at a cost of $5.

“It’s a one-stop shop basically,” Richter said. “You can come in, do your Christmas shopping, purchase your raffle tickets, et cetera.”

While adults peruse the vendors, children will also have an opportunity to purchase gifts to surprise their loved ones at the Mrs. Claus Gift Shop for Kids. Richter will be dressed up as Mrs. Claus to greet children at the door. While parents wait outside, Mrs. Claus’ elves help participants select gifts for the adults in their lives – parents, guardians, grandparents, aunts and uncles. The gift shop is set up in the boardroom at the headquarters, and will be decorated to look like “Christmas blows up,” Richter said.

“Nothing in the store is over $5,” she said. “There’s a lot of $1 [or] $2 items.”

Once the items are purchased, volunteers help the children wrap the gifts and send them on their way.

“They just are running out with their bundles,” Richter said. “It’s just the cutest thing to watch, because they’re so excited.”

She added BGCA does require brand-new or gently used donations for the gift shop. Cash donations are also accepted, so the club can purchase gift items. Richter specifically requested items that would make suitable gifts for men, as those are typically donated less often. Donations can be dropped off during BGCA’s office hours at the headquarters until Nov. 29.

Admission to the market costs $2, and all proceeds from the raffle, admission, Santa photos and the children’s gift shop go directly to BGCA. Ritcher said the market is an important fundraising initiative that supports the organization’s programming and services. The festival also raises awareness about the club in the community, by drawing in families that may not otherwise know about BGCA.

“It’s one of our main fundraising events, and it gives us a sense of community,” she said.


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