Easter Seals Festival of Trees set to begin

PARKERSBURG – As the annual Easter Seals Festival of Trees fundraiser celebrates its 27th year, one local woman has been volunteering her creativity and time from the beginning.

Kiki Angelos, a well-known Parkersburg resident who volunteers for and works with various organizations and groups throughout the Mid-Ohio Valley, has participated in the Easter Seals fundraiser since the beginning.

“I am the longest-running participant and decorator in the Easter Seals tree decorating fundraiser,” said Angelos. “I knew I had done it for a while, but when Jess (Puglisi-Sanders with Easter Seals West Virginia) told me I am the one volunteer to have been part of it every year, I was not surprised since I have watched so many people come and go.”

This year’s event will include roughly 30 decorated trees, wreaths and garlands to be placed on display at the Blennerhassett Hotel beginning Tuesday and running through Dec. 6. The items will be displayed throughout common areas of the hotel.

The annual auction will begin at 6 p.m. Dec. 3 at the hotel with a silent auction followed by the live auction of the trees set to begin at 7 p.m. Light hors d’oeuvres and a cash bar will be available.

Tickets to attend the event are $30 and will be available for purchase at the door or in advance at the Starbucks counter in the hotel.

Angelos said she first became involved in this Easter Seals fundraiser by decorating one tree in the event’s first year.

“Every year after that I couldn’t do just one tree, wreath or garland,” she said. “I like to use my creativity with these trees and make them all fun.”

In the past, Angelos has decorated a wreath in tribute to Parkersburg native and Cleveland Indians player Nick Swisher, as well as themed trees with one of her seven items last year having been a bride tree as well as this year’s Eiffel Tower display.

“People are always asking me where I come up with the ideas and, honestly, I’m not sure,” Angelos said. “I come up with ideas and think about them and collect items for that tree for months or years.”

For Angelos, there is no question as to if she will decorate more trees, wreaths or holiday garlands for the Easter Seals benefit in the future.

“I will probably be planning trees when I die,” she said through a smile. “Through the trees I’ve decorated being auctioned, I have probably helped raise many thousands of dollars throughout the years for the Easter Seals, which I am proud to be part of.”

Angelos said that being a grandmother of eight children, she supports the Easter Seals in its commitment to giving every child born a healthy start to life.

“I know how important it is for children to be healthy,” she said. “There will never be enough money raised to fulfill the needs of all of the children the Easter Seals helps in the Mid-Ohio Valley, but I like to think I have been able to help through my volunteerism.”

Proceeds from the event fund local Easter Seals programs, including an equipment/purchase modification and home modification program, which provides communications devices, wheelchair equipment, and stair lifts for people with disabilities. The Easter Seals West Virginia therapy team has been providing in-home early intervention therapy services for kids for more than a decade.

“All proceeds from this event will benefit kids,” said Puglisi-Sanders.

In 2010, the auction brought in more than $50,000, with one tree being auctioned for $21,050.

A panel of five local judges with backgrounds in art will be picking the winning trees in a variety of categories. The “People’s Choice” tree will be voted on by community members until the start of the auction.