TORRINGTON – The second year of the Christmas Trail is underway across several local businesses as one of the biggest fundraisers for Gracie’s Promise.
The purpose of Gracie’s Promise has always been to provide financial help for parents with children who are battling a catastrophic medical circumstance. As a non-profit organization, fundraisers such as the Christmas Trail and the 5k/poker run in September are the most impactful ways to help the families in need.
Gracie’s Promise President Mary Houser said the organization has plenty of families to help.
“We have I think on the average about 17 or so families that we help during the year and so we have to keep hitting the streets with these different fundraisers,” Houser said.
27 businesses, including two in LaGrange, have unique “Christmas trees” for community members to bid on for about three weeks.
The event originally started with the Kiwanis club as the Festival of Trees. Houser said Gracie’s Promise became involved with the event initially with children’s Christmas cards but took over the whole event when the Kiwanis club folded.
The festival was run the same way every year which lasted a couple of days, and all the trees were in one place such as the Platte Valley Bank Community Room.
The idea of a Christmas trail began as a way to continue the event during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We decided to see how people would react if it was just all over town,” Houser said. “And the response was unbelievable.”
While some people preferred just going to one place, Houser said having the trees all over town helped to spread the word of what Gracie’s Promise was.
“There were so many people who had ether never heard of Gracie’s Promise or would never have gone at the bank to look at the festival,” Houser said.
According to Houser, they usually saw the same people at the festival bidding on the trees. With multiple businesses involved throughout the community, there is much more exposure on the event and the organization.
The “trees” range from a traditional Christmas tree with plenty of decorations, to wreaths, handmade quilts, and even a reindeer which are all donated by the businesses or by community members.
Houser said she is surprised by the creativity each year.
“The enthusiasm of the people who put their creative gifts in places is amazing. Absolutely amazing,” Houser said. “Every year it’s different and every year I think they can’t possibly come up with another new idea, and they do.”
The final day to bid on a tree is Dec. 13, but it is up to the business owners to decide the exact time the bidding will end.
To see all of the participating businesses, go to the Gracie’s Promise Facebook Group at www.facebook.com.