22nd annual Compass Group Canada Festival of Trees a successful weekend of raising funds and awareness

On November 22nd and 23rd, the Festival of Trees in support of the Mental Health Foundation of Nova Scotia, sponsored by Compass Group Canada, took place at the World Trade and Convention Centre in Halifax. This occasion marked Compass Group Canada’s 15th year of presenting sponsorship for the event. Featuring two signature events: Friday’s Shannex Holiday Luncheon, and Saturday evening’s Black Tie Gala, this year’s weekend of events raised approximately $230,000 net revenue for the Foundation.

Hosted by Cyril Lunney and Heidi Petracek of CTV Morning Live, the Shannex Holiday Luncheon featured a cake auction of over 30 cakes and treats from local bakers and NSCC Culinary students. President and CEO Starr Dobson’s own whipped shortbread cookies brought in a winning bid of $200.00. The event’s organizing committee also crafted over 20 wreaths for a ‘Girls with Glue Guns’ wreath auction. Guests were treated to entertainment by local singer Laura Garsten, who spoke to her own lived experience with mental illness, and the positive impact of music therapy on mental health.

The Black Tie Gala was attended by The Honourable Peter MacKay, and many community leaders, businesses, and longtime Foundation supporters. Louise Bradley, President of The Mental Health Commission of Canada, opened the night with moving remarks as the event’s Honourary Chair. Hosted by Starr Dobson and CTV Atlantic News’ Steve Murphy, the event  was an elegant take on holiday fundraising, featuring a Live Auction, Silent Auction, and two large raffle draws. The ‘Santa Steele’ car key draw found one winner driving away with a 2 year lease on a brand new Subaru BRZ. The ‘Dazzling Diamonds’ draw gifted an $11,000.00 diamond ring, created by Carrie Lamb of Frida Jewellery to a lucky audience member.  Guests ended the night dancing to the sounds of Sacha Muise and The Chess Club.

Both events were proud to feature the RBC Forest of Trees. This year, the Forest of Trees (and artisan painted cones -Gallery of Trees) opened bids during Friday’s Luncheon, which proved quite successful. With over 18 trees decorated and donated by local businesses and organizations, the Forest lit up the centre of the room, drawing some tree bids upwards of $1000.00. The Heather Otto Memorial tree, prepared by friend Bea Pelley and team, was dedicated to the memory of Foundation supporter Heather Otto. Two guests came together to combine their bids on this tree, totaling $21,000.00. They had the tree delivered to Heather’s daughter.

Hundreds of individuals contributed to making this event successful. Over 60 volunteers joined the Mental Health Foundation of Nova Scotia and Zed Events teams to ensure all ran smoothly. On Friday, each table was assigned a volunteer ‘Table Host,’ a service provided by volunteer members of the RCMP Veterans Association, Nova Scotia division.

The Mental Health Foundation of Nova Scotia extends heartfelt thanks to all those who made the 2013 Compass Group Canada Festival of Trees a fundraising success and uplifting kick-off to the holidays. Funds raised will change lives throughout the coming year and beyond. Grants, programs, training, community support, and morewill support and embrace those living with mental illness in Nova Scotia, and their loved ones.