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Christmas Tree Festival brightens spirits of many, one mother in particular

MADAWASKA, Maine — Snow fell over this first weekend in December, as about 600 area residents turned out for the Daughters of Isabella’s inaugural Christmas Tree Festival at the Knights of Columbus hall in Madawaska.

While the fundraiser was designed to benefit various charity projects, one mother won the tree of her son’s dreams.

The hall held more than a dozen trees that sparkled with glitter and gleaming lights, surrounded by presents donated by local businesses. As people entered the hall, they were greeted by volunteers who sold 10 raffle tickets for $5. The guests viewed all the trees and dropped tickets into the boxes of whichever trees they wanted to win.

There were trees that were decorated with gifts, like earrings hanging in the branches or gift cards nestled into the foliage. About half of the trees were done up in a theme, some based on their sponsoring business. All About You Day Spa was decked out in a calming black and white Christmas pallet, while gifts of spa cash and at home relaxation enhancers were tucked under the tree. More than 250 pieces of baked goodies adorned the Mom’s Fudge tree.

Deadra Schlicher, chairperson of the local chapter of the Daughters of Isabella, donated one of the trees which was decorated with and surrounded by books. A single mom named Shelby Ouellette won the tree called the Usborne Book tree.

“I really couldn’t believe I won because I don’t usually ever win anything,” Ouellette said. “My grandmother, Ginette Ouellette, who is a [member of the Daughters of Isabella], is usually the one who wins everything, she definitely rubbed some luck off on me today.”

Ouellette said that after she walked around the hall, the Usborne Book tree stood out to her because of her 1-year-old son, Jaycee’s love of books.

“I knew out of all of them that, that’s the one I would want to win for him,” she said. “Books are expensive and it’s not everyday that I can afford to buy him a $15 book, so I just feel really lucky that I could spend $5 and bring him home a beautiful Christmas tree and wrap all those beautiful books and put them under it for him.”

The Daughters of Isabella is a non-profit Catholic group of women, who “do good things throughout the community,” according to Schlicher. The women will use proceeds from the fundraiser to make care packages for cancer patients and Christmas stockings for nursing home residents, as well as to fund scholarships for high school seniors.

“The money does not stay with us — we give it back out to the community.” Schlicher said. “We do charity, we do good work for people.”

She said the Daughters of Isabella already are planning for next year and have 15 new businesses that want to participate on top of this year’s participants who have agreed to do it again.

“We’re already looking forward to next year,” Schlicher said. “I’m hoping we’ll at least double the amount of trees that we have.”

Ouellette said she looks forward to going to it again next year.

“The event as a whole was such a fantastic idea. It was great to see all the businesses who donated the trees, gifts and money for this,” she said. “I look forward to going again next year.”

A full list of all the winners is available on the event’s Facebook page.

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