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SANDY — It is one of the most anticipated annual charity events benefiting Primary Children's Medical Center: the Festival of Trees.
Every year, the event brings Sandy's South Towne Expo Center alive with the sights, sounds and smells of Christmas. This year's festival kicked off Tuesday night with a VIP event.
Thousands of volunteers spent the day colorfully decorating more than 700 trees, creating an astounding Aisle of Wreaths, and displaying gingerbread houses that create miniature cities.
Those who donate their time and talent do so to raise money for Primary Children's, and they do it from the heart.
"I've had a member of my family that needed (the hospital's) services once, so I felt like I needed to give back," volunteer Joy Gough said.
As a family, the Rich family has been volunteering at the Festival of Trees for 39 years now. "This is a tradition that starts it all for us," they said. "After this, it's the holidays."
The event volunteers were working so hard to get ready was Tuesday night's private auction. The show's first public showing will be Wednesday.
Linda Meier, another volunteer, said she begins planning for the Festival of Trees a year in advance. For her, volunteering is very personal.
"My daughter was a Primary Children's for 2 ½ years before she passed away, and she wanted to do a tree before she died, and I promised her I would," Meier said.
She has kept her promise to her daughter for 21 years now, coming back each year to volunteer.
"I feel like she guides me and gives me inspiration," Meier said of her daughter. "I don't know where we come up with ideas except for her."
For other's it's something different, all unique, and clearly made from the heart.
The festival opens to the public at 10:00 Wednesday morning. It runs through Dec. 1, each day from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Ticket prices range from $3 to $5, and discount tickets are available at most Zions Bank locations. All proceeds go to Primary Children's Medical Center.