It’s easy for faculty and staff at Central Pennsylvania Institute of Science and Technology to give back to the community when they help host the Festival of Trees.
Saturday marked the second day of the 21st annual Festival of Trees — a holiday initiative to help raise money for the Centre County United Way and its partner agencies.
It included 61 trees on display from participating organizations — an increase from 57 last year, said United Way Special Events Coordinator Beth Shaha.
New participating organizations include Sheetz, Karch Auto, AmeriServ Bank, Chamber of Business and Industry of Centre County, Centre Wildlife Care, Leadership Centre County and the Sight-Loss Support Group.
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There was also an emphasis from local schools, including CPI, which decorated five trees this year.
“We have a lot of staff from outside Centre County so it’s hard during the year to get them to commit to helping one (charity),” CPI President Richard Makin said. “This year was easy to do with the Festival of Trees. We host it here every year, but were able to contribute a lot more.”
Trees from the technical-education school included one from the maintenance department, its faculty and staff, CPI Foundation, the postsecondary school and extracurricular activity groups.
Participants took about two hours Thursday afternoon to decorate trees from Kuhns Tree Farm, of Centre Hall.
The CPI maintenance tree included something a little different than baubles and ornaments.
They included toilet paper, piping, tools and other items as decorations that represented the department.
“We try to keep things unique,” Makin said.
The postsecondary school tree was also decorated with items used to represent its fields of study, including hairbrushes and toothbrushes, and was topped with a construction hard hat.
But that’s not something out of the ordinary.
Shaha said participating institutions and organizations sometimes decorate their tree in a way that would represent their agency.
With some trees that will be donated to local eligible families, will also come a donation of some of the ornaments.
Shaha said last year the Hartman Group decorated its tree with about $500 worth of toys, books, hats, mittens and scarves, and personal care items that were donated to a local family the day after the event ended.
“It’s all part of the spirit of giving,” Shaha said.
State College Area School District was represented with three trees along with the Penn State Graduate and Professional Student Association, Central Intermediate Unit No. 10, Park Forest Preschool, Howard Elementary School and the Bald Eagle Area School District.
BEA called its tree the “Backpack Tree” in honor of a program they participate in with the YMCA of Centre County that gives backpacks full of food to selected families.
There were also 25 vendors from Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Ohio for the craft fair that coincides with the Festival of Trees.
Shaha said John Poorman, who acted as Santa, was also back this year after missing last year.
“We have an all-encompassing family-friendly event so we wanted to have a little something for everyone,” Shaha said.
Shaha said the goal is to raise about $10,000 this year, though it only raised about $6,000 per year in the past.
Money raised comes from admission fees and donations. Participating organizations also included donation bins near their trees for visitors to make contributions.
The event will continue noon to 4 p.m. Sunday.