Oh Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree Giving Back this Holiday Season

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Grand Boulevard at Sandestin Gives Back this Holiday Season with the Annual Festival of Trees

By Bobby Parker

The holiday season is certainly a time of giving, whether it be to friends and family, a local charity or cause, or even to yourself. However, finding fun and creative ways to do so can sometimes be a challenge. Over the past few years, Grand Boulevard at Sandestin has stepped up to that challenge each holiday season with their Festival of Trees display, which is made possible through the Grand Boulevard Arts & Entertainment Program, and this year was no different. A dozen local charities and organizations put their creative caps on and designed a Christmas tree that exemplified their missions. Out of the 12 trees, four of the organizations took home winning titles and a combined total of more than $7,000.


Best in Show winner for the second year in a row, Friends of South Walton Sea Turtles, featured a “jellyfish” tree made out of upcycled plastic designed by local artist Billie Gaffrey. Founded in 2015, Friends of South Walton Sea Turtles are dedicated to promoting sea turtle conservation through awareness and education all along the Emerald Coast.

The Boys & Girls Club of the Emerald Coast came in second place with their groovy tree that celebrates 50 years of peace and love. Established in 1968, the Boys & Girls Club of the Emerald Coast strives to enable all young people to reach their full potential as productive, caring, and responsible citizens. Currently, the organization serves over 3,000 kids in eight clubs across Escambia, Okaloosa, and Walton counties.

Located in Defuniak Springs, H.E.A.R.T Animal Rescue took home not only third place, but also the People’s Choice Award for the third consecutive year.  H.E.A.R.T Animal Rescue exists to care for homeless pets in our communities through adoption services, community awareness, and fostering and caring for animals. In addition to their work, they also believe in philanthropy and continuously give back to other organizations throughout the community.

Rounding out this year’s circle of winners is The Sonder Project who came in fourth place. The Sonder Project was founded through a partnership with three Walton County based businesses, 360 Blue, YOLO Board, and The 30A Company, who all shared a desire to strengthen communities across the world through food security, clean water, and education. Currently, The Sonder Project is working diligently to help those affected by Hurricane Michael as depicted in their display in the Festival of Trees.

Other organizations featured in this year’s Festival of Trees include Fisher House of the Emerald Coast, Children in Crisis, Shelter House, Emerald Coast Theatre Company, The ARC of Walton County, Emerald Coast Children’s Advocacy Center, The ARC of the Emerald Coast, and Emerald Coast Hospice.

The Festival of Trees will be on display in Grand Boulevard through Christmas Day and is open to the public at no charge. For more information on the Festival of Trees, visit www.grandboulevard.com.

The post Oh Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree Giving Back this Holiday Season appeared first on South Walton Life | 30A News, Events and Community Information.

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