A Christmas tree titled “Star Way to Living” stands on display at Edna’s Place in Port Angeles on Saturday after fetching the top bid during Friday night’s Festival of Trees gala and auction. The tree, sponsored by First Federal, includes a collection of premiums themed after the Captain Joseph House. The tree received a bid of $6,500 to benefit the Olympic Medical Center Foundation. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

A Christmas tree titled “Star Way to Living” stands on display at Edna’s Place in Port Angeles on Saturday after fetching the top bid during Friday night’s Festival of Trees gala and auction. The tree, sponsored by First Federal, includes a collection of premiums themed after the Captain Joseph House. The tree received a bid of $6,500 to benefit the Olympic Medical Center Foundation. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

Festival of Trees gala breaks fundraising record

Online event to fund COVID-19 testing drew great participation

PORT ANGELES — The virtual version of the Festival of Trees gala and auction brought in a record-breaking amount of money for rapid COVID-19 testing equipment at Olympic Medical Center.

“We netted $151,500 after expenses, which is a record number for the 30-year history of the event,” said Bruce Skinner, executive director of the Olympic Medical Center Foundation, which hosts the annual Festival of Trees.

“It’s the best year we’ve ever had,” Skinner said Saturday after the online auction on Friday.

“There was definitely an increased desire to support health care,” he added.

The most money paid for a tree, by a person who wants to remain anonymous, was $6,500. “Star Way to Living” was designed by Claire Rausch, Jen Riffle, Sue Chance, James Brown, Reath Ellefson and Betsy Schulz.

Sponsor’s choice

The sponsor’s choice — voted best tree by gala sponsor First Festival — was Hedwig’s Christmas, designed by Lisa Divelbliss and Kimi Robertson.

The Festival of Trees features trees decorated for the holidays and auctioned off — each with special “premiums,” or gifts under the tree — to raise money for Olympic Medical Center equipment.

This year, it was all done virtually because of precautions against the spread of COVID-19. Ticket-holders picked up meals as takeout and bid on trees online.

The 47 decorated trees and some 40 wreaths were sold to finish paying for equipment for rapid testing for COVID-19 and other illnesses, such as influenza.

First Federal Community Foundation and First Federal donated money for the Biofire system for OMC’s hospital laboratory in September, Skinner said. The equipment was ordered then and will arrive soon.

Friday’s Festival of trees gala and auction raised enough to finish funding the system, he said.

“We had a lot of past tree purchasers who decided in the year of COVID that they wanted to support the event,” Skinner said.

Trees, which were at Edna’s Place in Port Angeles, were delivered to buyers Saturday morning by people in face masks and by appointment, Skinner said.

Family Days has gone virtual as well. A free tour of the decorated trees is on the foundation’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/omcfoundation.

The sponsors of Family Days are The Lodge at Sherwood Village, Fifth Avenue Retirement Center and Sherwood Assisted Living.

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