“We like to call TIE ‘the hardest-working little tree in Southwest Florida,” explains Kirsten O’Donnell of Goodwill Industries of Southwest Florida. “Even though he doesn’t talk, TIE has become the official spokesman of the Festival of Trees. He’s visiting businesses and other places of interest all over Southwest Florida, and we hope he’s piquing people’s curiosity.”
TIE, which stands for Transforming Individuals Everyday, is part of the Festival of Trees’ “You’ve Been Decorated” campaign. For a suggested donation of $100, businesses and organizations can host TIE for a week. Each host will add an ornament to TIE, and can add other goodies such as gift certificates and souvenirs. At the end of his tour, TIE will be displayed at the 2009 Festival of Trees, and will be auctioned off at the Tux and Trees Gala.
TIE debuted at Goodwill’s “Christmas in July” celebration, hosted by the Hotel Indigo. Since then, the four-foot fir has also visited Hammond Stadium, home of the Fort Myers Miracle. The tree posed for photos with the team and was on field for the ceremonial first pitch and the singing of the National Anthem.
“We’re really looking forward to seeing where else TIE pops up before the Festival of Trees,” O’Donnell adds. “Our hosts can also choose to send TIE to someone else, so we may have a few surprises along the way.”
TIE has been documenting his travels on a Twitter page, located at http://www.twitter.com/
The Festival of Trees (http://www.tuxandtrees.com) is Southwest Florida’s premier holiday showcase, and the Tux and Trees Gala is the signature fundraising event of the Southwest Florida Goodwill Foundation. In the event’s first two years, the Festival of Trees has raised nearly $100,000 to support Goodwill’s mission of helping people with disabilities and other disadvantages overcome their barriers to employment and independence.
The week-long holiday celebration begins the day after Thanksgiving (Friday, November 27) with a showcase of beautifully decorated Christmas trees and lavish holiday wreaths at the Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center in the Fort Myers River District. The holiday celebration culminates in “Tux and Trees” black-tie gala on Friday, December 4.
Individuals or organizations wishing to host TIE the Traveling Tree, or who would like to be a Festival of Trees sponsor, may contact Natalie Stratta at (239) 995-2106 ext. 249 or Carolyn Johnson, ext. 247.
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About the Festival of Trees: The Southwest Florida Goodwill Foundation is the beneficiary of the Festival of Trees and the Tux and Trees gala. The Southwest Florida Goodwill Foundation is dedicated to providing a lasting impact on the lives of individuals with disabilities and other barriers to employment. Supporting the mission of Goodwill Industries of Southwest Florida, the Foundation works to ensure long-term funding is available for programs and services as needs escalate in the five counties served.