The Irricana & Rural Municipal Library is preparing to host its annual Festival of Trees fundraiser this month and next – one of the facility's largest fundraising and community building events of the year, according to library relief worker Zakiya Harvey.
Harvey has worked at the library for approximately three years. She said since starting there, the Festival of Trees event has been an integral fundraising event for generating money for the non-profit organization and its operations.
“As a non-profit, it really helps to receive the funds [through the event] because it’s what the library runs on,” Harvey stated. “Especially since our funding is going down from the Town every year.
“We really rely on non-profits, and we rely on grants as well from our programs that we hold.”
As part of the popular event, the library accepts holiday-themed donations from small businesses and residents, including Christmas trees, wreaths, and other decorative holiday items.
The item is held at the library on display for residents to bid on, both online and in-person.
“When the auction is up, people can come and pick up their item and the library will receive the funds from the auction,” Harvey said.
The library will begin accepting incoming donations on Nov. 18 and until Dec. 10, according to Harvey.
“As soon as we start receiving donations – we're hoping to get most of the items on Nov. 18 – that's when everything will go live on our auction site,” she added.
“By Dec. 10, it will be the last day to bid and then people can pick up their items.”
Though the event was cancelled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and shifted towards an online auction last year, this year’s event is hoping to see a return to pre-pandemic popularity.
In 2019, the library saw around 400 visitors who lined up to see all the holiday tree submissions, attracting people from all over the northeast Rocky View County region.
“It’s pretty exciting to have everyone involved this way,” she said. “Something like this is really important to us because it’s something that we can also just throw something that’s fun for the town and also benefit from that as well, and also stay afloat for our patrons.”
Harvey said the library is an important aspect of the community offering its patrons plenty of resources, including books, DVDs and online programs for students, as well as help procuring grants.
“We have pretty much all kinds of resources with Marigold [Library System] and we also host programs partnered with [various organizations]… we’re pretty much a nice spot for people to come by and get their resources,” Harvey said.
According to a promotional poster for the event, the library hopes to showcase local businesses, organizations and individuals, as well as provide entertainment for the community.
“We hope each organization, business, individual will show their Christmas spirit and create a fun themed Christmas item to enter the Festival of Trees,” read the poster.
Due to limited space at the library, donations will be accepted on a first come, first served basis. Additionally, bids can be placed at 32auctions.com
Editor's note: A previous version of this article referred to Harvey's role as a librarian. She is actually a relief worker.