Holiday traditions for the Crittenton Centers kick off

By WEEK Reporter

November 30, 2012 Updated Nov 30, 2012 at 8:36 PM CDT

PEORIA, Ill -- A couple of annual holiday events that support Crittenton Centers kicked off Friday.

Expo Gardens in Peoria has been turned into a winter wonderland, hosting the 4th annual Festival of Trees. The event continues through Sunday.

Visitors can bid on 57 uniquely decorated trees, 30 centerpieces and a dozen wreaths through a silent auction. There's also food and entertainment.

All of the proceeds benefit Crittenton Centers.

"This event brings in, we're hoping this year, around 38 or 40 thousand dollars to Crittenton," said Tina Vandermyde, co-chair of the Festival of Trees. "We are self-supporting with help from the state of Illinois so we know that the funds brought in from this are used immediately."

Admission to the Festival of Trees is $5 for adults, $3 for children and seniors and kids two and under are free.

Meanwhile, Crittenton Centers' two Stocking Stuffer Stores open Saturday, located at Northwoods Mall and the Shoppes at Grand Prairie.

However, the store at Northwoods Mall got some early visitors today.

First Federated Church sponsored 38 children who went shopping for gifts. Each child received $25 and used it to fill out their list.

"What that is allowing is for these children to come in and purchase items for their parents from merchandise that's from $1 to $8," said Jennifer Simmons of the Crittenton Centers. "They're getting a lot of great stuff for very little money so we're thrilled that this is happening today."

The Stocking Stuffer Stores are open through December 19. Last year they raised over $30,000 for Crittenton Centers.

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