With a fourth year under its belt the Ponoka Festival of Trees shows no sign of slowing down.
Support for the annual fundraiser — which brings money to the Ponoka and District Health Foundation (PDHF) — which in turn helps with improvements at the Ponoka Hospital and Care Centre, was strong.
Along with a large crowd at the big gala evening Nov. 16, the Seniors Tea the next day and the Breakfast with Santa Saturday morning showed that attendees enjoy the event while knowing they are supporting a good cause.
It was a busy weekend with the big fundraising gala being hosted by the auctioneer skills of Dan Skeels and Dean Edge. The pair were able to induce laughter while helping bring the big dollars to the health foundation.
“You could see that the whole community was coming together,” said festival committee member Theresa Turner. “That was an amazing experience.”
A big surprise for the evening was a donated goat that ended up being passed on to other folks. Each time a person passed on the goat, they donated the auction price to the foundation.
Before the live auction even started the goat raised $10,000, getting folks that much closer to refurbishing the hospital’s long-term care bathing room.
“How many $10,000 goats do we have around here?” asked Turner jokingly.
The goal is to completely renovate the tub room to have a new specialty bath tub and a functioning shower, for those clients who prefer it, along with a more comfortable room with radiant heat and space for proper storage of supplies. The current equipment is aging and shower space is not ideal for patients.
It’s estimated the full cost is around $200,000 but will bring benefits to the long-term care clients.
The whole fundraiser is something Dorothy Ungstad, president of the PDHF, is excited about. Like most residents, she has heard about the hospital’s positive reputation. “It’s nice that they’re (clients) in the hospital.”
“If people get sick it’s close to come down,” said Ungstad of the doctors’ presence. “Of course our whole hospital is a really great facility.”
She added praise of the Ponoka Auxiliary for its strong support of the hospital’s need as well.
“It’s totally overwhelming and beyond our expectations by far,” Turner added of the strong support. “And I know it’s beyond the hospital’s expectations as well.”
She feels such strong support and pride shows people who are interested in moving, that Ponoka is a proud community.
For the Breakfast with Santa event, the room was packed. “I just think that it’s great that you can have this many kids and everything here in Ponoka.”
“Everything that you want your kids to experience for Christmas…is experienced here,” she said.
The committee has a one-year-at-a-time focus as the hospital’s needs are constantly in flux.
“Every year it just seems to get a little bit better and we’re just thrilled,” added Turner.
Where she feels the committee really needs support in is with volunteers. “If anybody would like to volunteer or help us out (for 2018), talk to one of the committee members,” she said.
Full fundraising dollars were not available at press time but a cheque presentation is set for Dec. 1 at noon at the Ponoka Legion.