RUSKIN – The SouthShore Regional Library looks particularly festive lately, thanks to a bright assortment of Christmas trees and holiday wreaths. And visitors can take one or more of them home by placing the highest bid now through Saturday during the 4th Annual Festival of Trees silent auction.
The event is a Friends of the SouthShore Library fundraiser to benefit Ruskin Elementary School that’s supported by area businesses and civic organizations, which buy, decorate and donate the trees and wreaths for the event. This year’s display includes more than 30.
“We do this for the kids and the school,” said Frances Hereford, co-organizer of the event with Ruskin Elementary School teacher Cheryl Jones. “It’s something really nice to do, and it brings lots of families into the library.”
It’s also a way to give back to the community, she said.
Some organizations, like the Ruskin Woman’s Club, Tuscan Alley, Dutch ReTreat and Zipperer’s Funeral Home, are sponsoring at least two trees. Other tree sponsors include Fifi’s Fine Resale Apparel, The Dog House & More and Dickman Realty; St. Vincent de Paul Thrift Shop; Golden Rule Pest Control, Harriet’s Flowers and Bayside Academy; and Havana Pet Salon and Spa, SouthShore Chamber of Commerce and Joy Filters.
Visitors who already have their Christmas trees can participate by bidding on wreaths donated by Alpine Power, Tampa Bay Martial Arts, A.J.’s Angels and nine other groups.
The winners will be announced at the library on Saturday during the festival finale from 4 to 7 p.m., which will feature live entertainment, a gift-basket drawing, food for sale and photos with Santa for a suggested donation of $1.
Last year hundreds of people turned out for the festival, which raised $2,700, said Hereford. The proceeds help cover the cost of student field trips.
“As it is right now parents have to pay for both the bus and the event, and every year the cost goes up,” Jones said. “Naturally, we want every child to be able to participate.
“In my opinion, field trips are an important part of their public education,” she said. “These children might not otherwise have any other kind of enriching experiences.”
The Festival of Trees initially took place at Ruskin Elementary School in 2010 but was adopted by the Friends and moved to the library the following year to give it greater visibility and a larger draw, said Jim Duffy, Friends president.
“This is a chance for folks to support a school that really needs help and get a nicely decorated tree for their homes,” he said.
For additional information, call (813) 273-3652.