Howard Elementary School students are doing their part to give back during the holidays.
Each student helped make ornaments to hang on a tree that’s featured at the Festival of Trees this weekend at Central Pennsylvania Institute of Science and Technology.
The school unveiled its theme, Friday, the first day of the festival.
Bald Eagle Area School District spokeswoman Rose Hoover said teachers and students came up with the Dr. Seuss theme that included a tree with glittery Grinch ornaments, red and blue paper fish, Lorax trees and books made of felt. It was topped with a red and white top hat worn by the cat in “The Cat in the Hat.”
Principal Skip Pighetti and a group of teachers decorated the tree that was placed in the center of CPI’s cafeteria.
“This year, each organization did a nice job decorating their trees that really represented who they are,” said United Way special events coordinator Beth Shaha.
The three-day event, which is in its 20th year, helps celebrate the holidays while raising money for the Centre County United Way and its 34 partner agencies, Shaha said.
This year includes 57 trees — most of which will be donated to local families in need.
The Centre County Library and Historical Museum decorated its tree with books. Mortenson Construction wrapped its tree with construction tape, toy tools and a hard hat at the top.
The Hartman Group decorated its tree with about $500 worth of toys, books, hats, mittens and scarves, and personal care items that will be donated to a local family on Sunday when the event is over, Shaha said.
“This is the kind of event where nothing goes to waste, and everyone does something to give back to others,” Shaha said.
Each tree was provided by the United Way to participating organizations through Kuhns Tree Farm in Centre Hall.
Organizers are looking forward to the weekend after attendance last year was hampered by wintry weather.
“It was nearly dead,” Shaha said. “The first day was our busiest day, but the rest was very slow. I think we even closed early on one of the days, but I think we’re going to have a pretty good response this year.”
She expects between 3,000 to 4,000 people to be in attendance through the weekend, and raise between $6,000 to $7,000.
Money raised comes from an admission fee and donations. Organizations included a donation bin to accompany each tree so that festival visitors could make contributions.
The Struble family, of Bellefonte, decided to attend the event on Friday night to help kick off the holidays.
“It’s something that’s really fun to do, and inexpensive,” said Brandi Struble. “The kids love it.”
Her children, Mikayla, 8, and James, 6 — both Bellefonte Elementary School students — said their favorite part was checking off items they found during a scavenger hunt.
“We went around to the trees and checked off the things we found,” James said.
In the first 15 minutes, he found nearly everything on the list except for cookie and superhero ornaments.
The event will continue Saturday and Sunday with live entertainment.
“It’s a whole room filled of festive magic,” Shaha said. “It’s one way to come and chill out during the hustle and bustle of the holidays, and be a part of helping the community.”