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Making miracles: Providence Seaside’s Festival of Trees

Event to celebrate its 15th year

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Posted: Thursday, December 6, 2012 11:14 am | Updated: 11:58 am, Thu Dec 6, 2012.

SEASIDE — It’s a “tree” that can be safely said looks like no other Christmas tree.

Oh sure, there’s a green and red garland around it. A star sits at the top. An ornament hangs from it.

But the garland surrounds a 6-foot ladder, which acts as the tree trunk. The star is attached to a chain saw, and the clear ornament is filled with screws and bolts.

Facilities engineers Mike Moyer and Dan Goodwin worked with other facilities personnel at Providence Seaside Hospital, to create the “Mr. Fix-It” tree, which will be auctioned off during the Festival of Trees gala on Saturday night.

At least 25 trees will be dressed in their finery, ready to be taken home for a cheerful holiday celebration.

“This is the biggest fundraiser of the year for the foundation,” said Julie Jesse, foundation board chair. “I don’t think we can thank the community too many times.”

Organizers hope to raise $75,000 from the event. Proceeds from the auction will pay for health care and urgent dental care for those without insurance and will support the telemedicine fund, which enables specialists from elsewhere to treat Seaside patients through electronic means.

“It’s incredible,” said Sydney Van Dusen, director of the Providence Seaside Hospital Foundation, which is sponsoring the Festival of Trees. “I’m blessed to be working with an organization that’s doing things that make a difference in the community.”

The festival’s theme, “Making Miracles,” is appropriate, Van Dusen said.

“We’re very fortunate at the hospital because we’re able to take care of miracles every day,” she said.

Although this is the festival’s 15th year, it is the first year for Van Dusen, hired as foundation director last June, and events coordinator Sue Waller, hired in October, to organize the festival. Foundation board members and volunteers are assisting them, along with dozens of employees throughout the hospital.

In fact, employees created trees and wreaths for their own display in the hospital cafeteria. They celebrate the miracles of starry nights, family, births, nature, joy and even cats (the “Miracle of Cat-mas” tree comes with toy stuffed mice, balls of yarn and small cans of cat food). Employees will vote for their favorite wreath or tree, and it will be given as the second prize in a “blinky pin” raffle (see the accompanying fact box).

Set-up began at the Seaside Civic and Convention Center early this week. By Wednesday morning, strings of twinkling white lights had already been strung across the ceiling in the Pacific Room. Jaime Crandall, a receptionist for the administrative department and a festival veteran, showed Van Dusen how to measure the spaces where the trees would be placed around the room’s perimeter and helped her mark squares with blue tape.

Soon, decorated trees, wrapped in plastic wrap to protect the ornaments, began arriving.

“Hood River number 12 right next to ‘Mr. Fix-It,” directed Van Dusen to those bringing the trees in.

Donated by the Providence Hood River Foundation, the tree is in exchange for a tree that Providence Seaside donates to the hospital’s Festival of Trees staged in Hood River.

In addition to all of the ornaments, the Hood River tree comes with a two-night stay at a local lodge, a private wine-tasting tour, gift cards to local restaurants, bottles of wine, museum passes and other goodies. It is valued at $700.

Meanwhile, Crandall began placing a white tree skirt around the bottom of a white tree draped with candy canes, lollipops and gumdrops.

“This is the fun part for me,” Crandall said. “I love decorating for Christmas. It’s my favorite part. I mean, it’s work, but it’s fun.”

Valued at $650, the “Candy Land” tree,” offers a gift basket from Bruce’s Candy Kitchen and a Candy Land board game. It is donated by the hospital’s gift shop and volunteer services.

Other trees, donated from individuals, families and businesses throughout the area, also will be available for the auction. They have names like “Putting on the Glitz” (which comes with 17 glass bird ornaments), “Winter Wine Land (featuring 30 bottles of wine and the accessories) and “A Charlie Brown Christmas” (designed to delight the child in everyone).

Some trees come with trips: “Cabo San Lucas Dreams (a Mexican resort), “Surf’s Up Hawaii (a Maui condo and airfare), “Palm Valley Country Paradise (Palm Desert, Calif. condo), Walla Walla Wine Getaway (a Walla Walla, Wash. bed and breakfast inn).

Stained glass angels, tea sets, picnic baskets and crab cooking equipment are under some of the trees, while one tree offers 12 different birdhouses and another provides gift certificates for local recreation venues.

The “Jingle Beer Christmas” tree will appeal to those who like to brew their own beer or sample the creations of several coastal breweries.

Once the auction is held, the trees will be delivered to locations designated by their winners.

But Mike Moyer, who came up with the “Mr. Fix-It Tree,” isn’t sure how he’s going to transport his “tree.” It would be too difficult to wrap it in plastic.

“I had a picture of the thing in my head,” Moyer said. “After I knew the ladder would be the tree, things started to become clearer.”

Tools – including a flashlight, brad nail gun, drill kit, skill saw, metal grinder, screw drivers, gloves, safety glasses, helmet and an adjustable crescent wrench, were heavy, Moyer said.

“You can’t hang tools off the limb of a tree,” he said.

So he built a wooden frame surrounding the ladder and hung the tools from that. Both the ladder and frame are almost obscured by eight packs of red and green garland. But the shop vac, saw horse, chain saw case and two tool bags standing next to the tree are also included in the package, valued at $2,675.

The money to put the tree together came from funds earned through a year-round recycling project the facilities employees participate in. The engineers donated the 16 hours to put it together.

It’s a tree that looks like no other tree in the auction, and Moyer is proud of it.

“I wanted it to be where people could stand and look at it a bit before they figure it out,” he said.

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