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Jasper County Tribune

The giving tradition continues

Festival of Trees returns to the Jasper County Courthouse

The holiday season is cemented in tradition and the art of giving. Local 4-H groups get in the holiday spirit by keeping one of its traditions alive.

The Festival of Trees will once again take over the interior of the Jasper County Courthouse beginning the day after Thanksgiving until the end of December. Keeping with “The Giving Tree” theme, each of the 14 4-H clubs in Jasper County will decorate their tree to show support for its chosen charity or organization.

Stacey Wilson, Jasper County Youth Coordinator with the ISU Extension & Outreach, has helped organize the event for the past 15 years. She said the festival is one way for the groups to showcase the community service and citizenship activities 4-H members participate in and shows there is more to the club than just showing animals at the fair.

“You don’t have to live on a farm or have livestock to join 4-H. There’s all kinds of projects for people to do including community service and things like that,” Wilson said.

At one time, the festival was held at the Jasper County Fairgrounds in Colfax. The trees would be put up on a Friday and have to be taken down by Sunday. In 2006, the festival was moved to the courthouse allowing for the trees to stay up longer and be visible in a prominent building in the county.

“We thought this was more centrally located and was a good place for it,” Wilson said.

With 4-H groups located throughout the county, there are only a handful of activities that bring all the clubs together. Wilson said a lot of the time, the kids involved only get to see each other at the county fair. The Festival of Trees allows each group to have fun and interact with one another.

“They see what each other is doing and next year they might have that idea for their club,” Wilson said.

Not all of the clubs have chosen their organization or charity yet, but Wilson said there were groups who have chosen to help places the Jasper County Animal Rescue League, local food pantries and the cancer unit at MercyOne Newton Medical Center. One of the groups has chosen a more personal cause to champion.

“The Jasper County Council, one of the member’s moms is deployed so they will be checking with her unit to see what they can use and ship over there. We will probably decorate our tree with a patriotic tree,” Wilson said.

Each club will decorate its tree according to the charity or organization they have chosen to champion. Wilson said the clubs used to put items under the tree, but for the past couple years, most groups make a poster board to explain what the club is working to accomplish. However, many groups will still use potential donations as decorations on the tree.

“For example, if they are collecting for under-developed countries, like toothbrushes, they’ll put that on (the tree). A lot of them choose the animal rescue league, especially this year we have several different clubs choosing the animal rescue league to support. They’ll make garland out of dog bones or hang dog toys on the tree and they’ll donate those,” Wilson said.

The Festival of Trees will light up the inside of the Jasper County Courthouse beginning Nov. 29. For more information about the event or the 4-H program, contact the ISU Extension & Outreach office at 641-792-6433.

Contact Pam Pratt at
641-792-3121 ext. 6530 or pampratt@newtondailynews.com

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