'Festival of Trees' brings Christmas cheer to Schoolcraft Memorial Hospital, raises money for expansion

MANISTIQUE, Mich. (WLUC) - While you may not normally associate a hospital waiting room with Christmas cheer, you might if you're at Schoolcraft Memorial Hospital.

From December 2 through 8, 'Festival of Trees' will be on display at the hospital.

"I've actually seen this done in other communities, and I researched, I haven't seen it done in the Upper Peninsula and I thought what a great way to bring the community to our hospital, to learn about our expansion project, and to give back," says Sara Giles, marketing director for the hospital.

21 trees line the perimeter of the waiting room.

Businesses from across the Upper Peninsula were asked to donate prizes, get a tree, and then decorate it. Each tree has a box next to it for raffle ticket.

Visitors, both patients and members of the public, are encouraged to buy raffle tickets and put them in one of the bins next to the trees, or one of the 19 other prizes available to win.

"We asked them all to come up with a creative theme, and they did.," says Giles. "You'll be wow-ed if you come down and check them out."

It's all to benefit the hospital's upcoming expansion project - a two story, 29,000 sq. foot addition to the existing building.

"It's one of those, 'if you build it they'll come,' and so we've grown very rapidly but we always knew that there'd be a second phase and so we're ready to do that piece of it," says Don Perigo, Chair of the Board of Trustees for Schoolcraft Memorial Hospital.

"Not having to travel the distances that they've had to in the past for some of the specialty clinics so we're exited to get this project off the ground and this is one of the main events that we've done to hopefully raise some money toward that project," says Perigo of the festival.

The expansion will put everything, currently spanning over three buildings, under one roof.

And it's all in the name of Christmas cheer.

"When we started planning this over a year ago, we didn't know how it would turn out and we're just excited and very pleased with the outcome. Not only the trees, the businesses that chimed in and donated trees," says Irma Gonzalez-Hider, fund development director for Schoolcraft Memorial Hospital.

The festival wraps up on Saturday and Sunday with family fun events like face painting, and a visit with Santa.

Hours are 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on days except for Sunday, when the festival closes at 4 p.m.