Festival of Trees returns for 29th year

Published 3:29 pm Tuesday, December 5, 2023

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

Every year since 1994, Stanly Commons has been the site of the annual Festival of Trees, sponsored by Tillery Compassionate Care (TCC), formerly known as Hospice of Stanly and the Uwharrie.

This year the tradition continues.

“We have a number of new things going on,” said Michaele Connors, one of the organization’s two bereavement counselors, shortly prior to the annual tree lighting celebration on Dec. 4.

“Our goal is to make the event one that is festive and celebratory,” said Connors, who added, “we want it to be an event for the whole community.”

Attendance at the tree lighting was indicative of success in TCC’s efforts to reach the community.

“The number of people here has definitely increased,” said Connors. “In addition, we have desserts which have been donated by our volunteers, cookies from Albemarle Sweet Shop that children and adults can decorate on their own, and we have two special guests from the North Pole who will be with us later tonight.”

Janna Spurr, also a bereavement counselor, noted that TCC understands that the holidays are an especially difficult time for those who have recently lost family or friends.

“Holidays are tough,” she said. “We are glad to be of service, and this event is one way we hope to help out those who are hurting.”

According to Spurr, the event has grown since 2022.

“We have 51 sponsored trees (compared to 45 last year), and we have nine angel trees (compared to six in 2022),” she said.

The “angel trees” are decorated solely with white hand-made angel ornaments, all created by the organization’s volunteers, and placed in memory of loved ones who have passed on.

“Our volunteers have made over 1,100 angels this year,” Spurr said.

Of the 51 trees sponsored by various individuals and organizations, Tracy and Scott Efird have been longtime sponsors, placing a tree annually for their late daughter Kerri, who passed of cystic fibrosis in 1997 at the age of 18.

“We have been sponsoring a tree for about 15 years now,” said Tracy.
“It’s a work of passion,” she added, while noting that coming up with a new theme for the tree each year is a challenge.

“This year, I was going through some old photos and found one of Kerri and her Snoopy stuffed animal,” Tracy said. “That solved the challenge right then.”

The tree is a “Charlie Brown Christmas” theme, with Snoopy and all the “Peanuts” characters represented.

“Everybody loves Snoopy, and every year we want the tree to be one that makes people happy,” said Efird.

Efird’s husband, County Commissioner and Locust Planning and Zoning Director Scott Efird, who is also a board member for Tillery Compassionate Care, contributes to decorating the tree as well, said Tracy.

“He’s a good box opener,” she joked, adding that putting the tree together each year is a team effort for the two.

Tracy offered high praise for TCC’s work in the area.

“We wish we had known more about their availability when Kerri was in her late stages,” she said. “They provide amazing services.”

Listen to “Jingle Bells” from the Festival of Trees.

Festival Of Trees

The Festival of Trees is open 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays through Jan. 17, 2024.

Interested in purchasing an angel ornament? Those wishing to may do so at TCC’s main office at 960 N. First St., Albemarle, or online at tillerycompassionatecare.org. Ornaments are $12 each.

Interested in sponsoring a tree in the future? Call TCC at 704-983-4216, or complete a form online at tillerycompassionatecare.org.

Interested in volunteering with Tillery Compassionate Care? Call TCC at 704-983-4216.