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Kuu-us Crisis Line Society thwarts 2020 with successful Festival of Trees

Annual event benefits families needing a hand up with Christmas decorations
Amanda Whitney and Kaelyn Vimhel of Kuu-us Crisis Line Society prepare to deliver trees from the annual Festival of Trees to families in need. (PHOTO COURTESY OF KUU-US)

The coronavirus pandemic could not keep the Kuu-us Crisis Line Society from holding its annual Festival of Trees—although it did change the way the festival happened for 2020.

READ: Port Alberni crisis line sees spike in calls during COVID-19

The Festival of Trees typically sees sponsors decorate their trees in the windows of the Coulson Group building at Third Avenue and Mar Street. Then the decorations and lights are collected afterward and donated along with a tree to families selected by Kuu-us who are in need.

“Usually what we do is have donors that buy decorations and they have a decorating night,” explained Kateri Deutsch from Kuu-us.

This year because of COVID-19 restrictions, the traditional festival couldn’t happen. A longtime donor gave a generous donation, and other donors gave cash for Kuu-us staff members to collect trees and purchase new lights, decorations and tree stands. The society was able to help 21 families this year.

Kuu-us staff went to Tom’s Trees by the Alberni Valley Regional Airport to pick up trees, which Christmas tree farm owner Tom Verbrugge helped cut down. Verbrugge also discounted the trees, which enabled Kuu-us to spend more money purchasing ornaments and hot chocolate gift bags for families.

READ: Kuu-us Crisis Line Society kicks off annual Festival of Trees

Amanda Whitney coordinated this year’s festival of trees. “I’m so honoured to have been a part of this year’s festival,” she said.

“Although it looked a lot different in comparison to past festivals, we managed to help 21 families, even with COVID-19 restrictions. I’m so thankful for the amazing community we live in, and the help from our volunteers and coworkers for helping make this festival a reality this year.”

Trees were distributed Dec. 13 and 14. Seventeen were delivered to families in Port Alberni, and Kuu-us staff delivered four to Ditidaht First Nation community members.

RELATED: Kuu-us Crisis Line Society hands out hygiene kits in Port Alberni

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Kara Bryant and Mark Vandervelde, right, of Kuu-us Crisis Line Society warm up over a campfire with Tom Verbrugge, owner of Tom’s Trees, who helped cut down and load trees for Kuu-us’ annual Festival of Trees. (PHOTO COURTESY OF KUU-US)
Tom Verbrugge brings two freshly cut trees to be delivered as part of Kuu-us Crisis Line Society’s annual Festival of Trees. (PHOTO COURTESY KARA BRYANT, KUU-US)

Susie Quinn

About the Author: Susie Quinn

A journalist since 1987, I proudly serve as the Alberni Valley News editor.
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