The Santa Clarita Valley community has stepped up to help support local kids via the Boys & Girls Club of SCV’s 18th annual Festival of Trees, but there’s still time for more to give back, officials said Saturday.
Every year, the Boys & Girls Club and volunteers organize the event to kick off the holiday season with crafts and activities for families, an opportunity to take a photo with Santa Claus and a silent auction that features Christmas trees, wreaths and gingerbread houses.
The festival has become a family tradition with many, but officials nearly canceled the event due to ongoing safety protocols amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We had to cancel other events — but this event is really one that the community looks forward to,” said Matt Nelson, CEO of the SCV Boys & Girls Club. “This year, with all the challenges we weren’t sure if we’d have it but then in the summer we decided this is going to be doable by following safety protocols and having (a mobile bidding system).”
Proceeds from the event, which opened Wednesday and runs through Tuesday, are expected to help the club bring a drive-thru holiday experience for children to receive gifts and see Santa Claus, as well as sustain the organization into the new year, according to Nelson.
“We’re still running and helping kids with remote learning and providing a safe, socially ll distanced place with games and activities so that kids aren’t on screens all day,” added Nelson. “So, this is a key event to help us get through the holidays and the new year.”
This year, all bidding was done online, which Nelson believes has allowed them to reach more people and has, thus far, been a success, as their fundraising ability so far has exceeded expectation, he said.
All full-size trees were sold out following the event’s Magic of the Lights Gala, which featured the virtual live auction, entertainment and holiday dinners for those who bought tickets in advance.
Tabletop trees and gingerbread house biddings are still ongoing and scheduled to close Tuesday, Nov. 24, according to Ali Campbell, a resource development director with the SCV Boys & Girls Club.
Those interested in viewing the trees and gingerbread houses still have a chance to see them in person through Tuesday at Westfield Valencia Town Center mall.
On Saturday, local resident Katie Petrelli stopped by with her family to continue a yearslong tradition, she said.
“For as long as I can remember, we’ve been coming and it’s something we look forward to,” said Petrelli. “It’s different this year but it’s still awesome that they’re able to put on as much as they have for us to come and enjoy it.”
To view the gala, visit scvfot.com. For bidding and additional information about the Festival of Trees, visit scvbgc.org/festival-of-trees-santa-clarita.