Festival about Christmas, neighbors helping neighbors

Hello, friends and neighbors. It is good to see you here.

A 2-year-old Home Health and Hospice patient has a metabolic disorder, chronic pancreatitis, and failure to thrive. The patient needs a highly accurate baby scale so that he can spend more time at home than in the hospital. Onslow Caregivers Inc. provided the $185 scale.

Another patient has Medicaid and Social Security applications pending. Family and local churches have paid for medications for two months, but are unable to pay this month. Onslow Caregivers provided the medication.

A hospice patient with cancer has exhausted lifetime insurance benefits and the spouse is temporarily out of work to care for the patient. They need coverage of pain and comfort medications. Onslow Caregivers was there.

A patient and spouse both use wheelchairs. They need a ramp built so they can have access to and from their home. They have to maneuver stairs and both have fallen because of this. Onslow Caregivers provided the materials for the ramp.

This is just a sampling of the needs met by Onslow Caregivers each day. When a catastrophic illness hits, it doesn’t take long to exhaust a lifetime of savings. Other patients need help with groceries, paying the rent, medical equipment, and transportation. Onslow Caregivers gets the money to meet these needs through their annual fund-raiser, the Festival of Trees, going on from noon to 6 p.m. today and from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday at the American Legion Fairgrounds.

Admission is just a $1 donation.

Winter Wonderland

Although I’m officially the columnist, I’m letting Jean Cole, chairperson of the Festival of Trees, take over from here and tell us all in her own words what’s on tap for this year’s festival:

“This year’s festival is bigger and more delightful with 65 decorated trees. Festival of Trees co-chair Shirley Moore and husband, Dick, with the help of Marines from Camp Johnson and volunteers Dale Weston, Terry Jarman, Eleanor Marshburn and Jimmy Alford, prepared the North Carolina fir trees for the festival. The trees had to be trimmed, placed in stands and fireproofed. What a job! These trees will light up your heart and the profit from the Festival goes for patient needs of Onslow County Home Health and Hospice.

“Marge Zima, former director of the Senior Services Center, will help festival-goers vote for their favorite Christmas Tree.

In all, there are more than 500 civic clubs, businesses, schools, community agencies, churches, military members and individuals that make the Festival of Trees a perfect family Christmas holiday event.

Shopping days

“Lois Bowling, Pat Kemmis, Eleanor Marshburn and many other volunteers have been busy preparing the Country Store for all the Christmas shoppers. The store will feature many donated new, old, vintage and ‘whatever’ items at bargain prices.

“The Sweet Shoppe will provide great tasting specials and we thank Jamie Higginbotham for procuring all the sweets and Bean’s Coffee for all the great coffee. Millie’s Southern Concessions will have snacks for sale. Do not miss the fresh-baked breads and goodies from Bulk and More and the jams and preserves from the mountains.

“The Pine Needle Quilt Guild will present their handiwork of handmade quilts to dazzle our festival wonderland with patches of color that makes us all feel the comfort of a warm quilt and Grandmothers’ house.

“Nancy St. Charles has outdone herself again this year to present the magic of music and dance through this event with favorite community entertainers. The Onslow County Museum’s ‘Rites of Passage’ will take us all back in time and also provides a future look at those all around us.

“Children will get to meet Santa and enjoy crafts and entertainment from the Camp Lejeune Armed Services YMCA and Onslow Partnership for Children. Cider and cookies will be provided by the Onslow County Extension and Community Associations. And James Marshburn will have a big sleigh and reindeer out for family photos.

‘Spirit of Giving’

“The ‘Spirit of Giving’ silent auction is so good this year with Martha Jacobs getting fantastic sports memorabilia including a football signed by Richlands football great, Mario Williams, who is now a defensive end with the NFL’s Houston Texans. Other signed sports balls and tickets were donated, including basketballs from Duke, UNC and N.C. State and ECU, as well as area high schools. Also in the silent auction will be about 150 vintage, new items, collectibles, gift baskets, art works and “unusual” items like a signed television script of an episode from the TV show, “One Tree Hill.” Actress Moira Kelly, who plays Michael Chad Murray’s mother on “One Tree Hill,” will be at the festival from 2 to 4 p.m. today to sign autographs. Jacqui Pritchard has also collected some outstanding donations for the auction.

“The Military Order of the Purple Heart, Beirut Memorial Chapter No. 642, is remembering our fallen and wounded heroes with a display that will make us all remember why our freedom is so precious. And Carol Smith, state representative for the United States “Home of the Brave” Fallen Warrior Quilt Project, will be present with quilts to sign that go to every family that loses a warrior.

All aboard!

“This year’s newest display will be a treat for everyone who loves trains. The Onslow Model Railroad Club is presenting its newly built 30-foot by 20-foot ‘Town and Country’ model train exhibit, and visitors will have a chance to win a miniature train village with a small donation.

“A New River Harley Davidson motorcycle will be on display and Harley Davidson has donated a leather jacket for the auction.

“The Onslow Garden Club Council and Carolina Gallery have put the finishing touches on the entrance and main room with an outstanding display of garden and art work. The Half Moon Volunteer Fire Department will be on hand with ‘Holiday Fire Safety’ information and the Big Red Truck.

“Onslow County authors Stratton and Billie Jean Murrell will autograph copies of their book, ‘Images of America, Jacksonville and Camp Lejeune’ during the festival.

“Onslow Caregivers will raffle a handmade quilt donated by Joanne Lucht and a special ‘By the Sea Christmas Shell Tree’ donated by Kelly and Andy Turner of The Shop Across the Street in Sneads Ferry. Everyone can remember a loved one with an angel on the Remembrance Tree.”

“The Festival of Trees is for the Christmas in all of us. I want to sincerely thank this community for giving so much to so many. Thank you for caring for your neighbors.” — Jean Cole.

Jean and I will be at the festival and we hope to see you there, too. Thank you for coming.