On the Town: Festival of Trees extends charity branches

The Glendale Assistance League's 38th annual Festival of Trees was truly "A Golden Christmas."

League president Karen Millman welcomed her 400-plus audience members. The "gold" theme was carried throughout with everything from golden-tree centerpieces to the golden packages placed beneath 21 elaborately decorated Christmas trees that lined the ballroom of the Glendale Hilton last Sunday.

Each tree represented themed goodies that were won with the purchase of the winning $1 opportunity ticket.

Master of ceremonies T.J. Jones drew each winning ticket. League member Mary Margaret Smith was the merry mistress of ticket sales. When she had a chance to sit down for lunch, she was joined by son Edson Smith and his wife, Heather Smith. Also attending were their children Coral Smith, 14; Piper Smith, 12; and Tarquin Smith, 8.

One of the most popular trees was titled "A Golden Moment." The big prize under that tree was a $200 Bloomingdale's gift card tucked into Santa's bag.

Winner Sarah Ward will be shopping at Bloomies just in time for Christmas gift-buying. The tree, decorated with gold garlands, was presented and underwritten by league members Margery Welker, Joyce Bertram and Ruth Ann Hokinson.

A live auction kicked off the after-luncheon festivities. Alma Tycer, a past league president, won lunch and a tour for six through Porto's Bakery led by Betty Porto herself. Tycer was joined for lunch by good friend Jane Rosell of Glendale. Tycer's family members who attended were daughter Sherilynne Di Paola and granddaughters Daniella Di Paolo, 12, and Danica DiPaola, 15.

Kudos must be given to silent auction chairwoman Marcie Haug. A record number of must-haves, from jewelry to an In-N-Out hamburger basket, was collected with the help of league members. Haug was also helped by the league Assisteens Sidney Flynn and Haug's granddaughter Emily Haug.

But the person running the show was event chairwoman Mary Ann Fell. Her able committee of 14 league members assisted Fell, decked out in her sparkly, golden dress. Fell and her committee began planning the Festival of Trees right after last year's festival.

Countless numbers of volunteer hours go into putting on such a festive occasion. Throughout the year, many a garage was filled with decorations and auction items for the festival.

Glendale VIPs joining in on the fun included former Glendale Mayor Carl Raggio and his wife, Lynne, Debbie and Bruce Hinckley, Nancy and Jerry Frazee and the ever-genial Paul Wight and his wife, Mary. Statuesque fashionista Jeraldine Saunders of "The Love Boat" fame also put in a welcome appearance.

The well-worth-it $100 per-ticket charge greatly contributed to the afternoon's proceeds benefiting the league's seven philanthropies.

They include Operation School Bell, providing clothes for elementary school children; scholarships for deserving high school and college students; Senior Neighborhood Fellowship monthly luncheons for senior citizens; "Authors and Illustrators Day," during which published authors and illustrators visit elementary schools; Foster Friends Backpacks for children in foster care; and a vocational training program consisting of job training for adults who are developmentally disabled.

Besides the Festival of Trees, other sources of financial support for these programs include the league's Thrift Alley — a bargain hunter's dream — personal donations as well as business and corporate contributions.


RUTH SOWBY may be reached at ruthasowby@gmail.com.

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