Rockwall Helping Hands’ Festival of Trees deemed a huge success

Community support helps pack the pantry

(ROCKWALL, TX – Nov. 16, 2015) The holiday season filled the air inside the Hilton Dallas Rockwall Lakefront this past weekend as Helping Hands of Rockwall County hosted its 6th Annual Festival of Trees fundraiser.

Attendees marveled at the many elaborately decorated Christmas tree entries in this year’s festival, which included a dinner and live auction on Saturday evening.

Congrats to the following winners of the 2015 Festival of Trees:

Best Small Tree – Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Rockwall

Most Unique Tree – Milestone Electric

Judge’s Choice – Baker Brother’s Plumbing & Air Conditioning

People’s Choice – Rockwall Early Childhood PTA (6th year in a row!)

Most Traditional Tree – National Charity League (NCL) Class of 2018

Worker Bee Studio took home the Repurpose Challenge award for the second straight year. The Repurpose Challenge award involves those who register for the challenge to repurpose an item from the Helping Hands Centsible Thrift store to be sold during the festival.

Helping Hands President Jon Bailey spoke of the strides both the organization and the community have made this past year to help the needy within Rockwall County.

“Over the past year your generosity has achieved so much,” Bailey said. “Your participation and gifts have allowed Helping hands to offer emergency assistance and healthcare to over 10,000 families in Rockwall County. You’ve also participated in allowing Helping Hands to meet the growing needs of our county by allowing us the expansion of our facilities. This will ensure that we will continue to meet the growing needs of Rockwall County.”

Heath Mayor Pro Tem Justin Holland also provided the astonishing results of the Helping hands Pack the Pantry food drive. The community-driven effort was organized by Holland and businessman Brian Llewellyn, who challenged local companies, civic organizations and community leaders to pull off the largest food drive in Rockwall County’s history.

Regal Realtors provided a pod and asked the community to step up and donate enough food to fill up its new double-sized pantry; and boy, did the community ever respond.

With the container full to the brim with donated foods, Milestone Electric pulled up in one of their box trucks loaded with as much food as was already packed in the container plus $1,400 worth of gift cards for Thanksgiving baskets for Helping Hands.

Thanks to the incredible support from the community at large, over 15,000 pounds of food was collected for the Pack the Pantry food drive.

“It was truly an amazing experience to see how an organization like Helping Hands has evolved over the years, and how the community comes together whenever you think it’s stretched to the limit, and then Jon Bailey tells you that the food pantry is twice as big as it was last year, what are we going to do?” Holland said. “But you guys did it, so a big hand to the Rockwall community.”

Bailey also recognized longtime Helping Hands Emergency Assistance and Referral Director Sherry Hamm, who is retiring after over 10 years of unparalleled dedication and commitment to the organization. Sherry has actively volunteered in many organizations throughout the county, including the First United Methodist Church of Rockwall, the Leadership Counicl and Society of St. Stephen, Habitat for Humanity, and Family Selection. She taught school in Rockwall for 24 years before retiring and joining Helping Hands of Rockwall County.

“When asked what her dreams were for Helping Hands, she was quoted as saying ‘It would be phenomenal to have sufficient funds to meet the needs of all the Rockwall County families in financial crisis and not to have to turn any away for lack of funds,’” Bailey said. ‘Supporters do a great job bringing in food for the pantry but my dream would be that the pantry would be well stocked throughout the year.’”

Those in attendance enjoyed a wonderful meal provided by the Hilton, followed by a live auction, a chance to donate to Helping Hands and an opportunity to throw down some moves on the dance floor during yet another highly successful festival fundraiser for Helping Hands, one which Bailey said could not have been possible without the generosity of the community.

“Over 17 percent of our county falls below the federal poverty level,” Bailey said. “So together, as this county continues to grow, so does the need. We still have a long way to go, but with your gifts we are certainly headed in the right direction, so I thank you for that.”

A big thanks to the following sponsors of the event this year:

Trend HR

Hilton Dallas Rockwall Lakefront

Willis Fine Jewelry

Col-Met

FC Cuny Corporation

Northstar Bank

K&S Insurance Agency

Lorne & Mary Liechty

The Fatted Calf

Culpepper Steakhoue

The Oar House

Rod Holland and Keller Williams – Candy Bar & Valet

AMICA – Champagne Diva

Aspasians – Centerpieces

A & J Steel Reinforcing Services, Inc.

Alliance Bank

American National Bank of Texas and Wealth Management

ATMOS Energy

Farmers Electric Cooperative

Hodges and Capps Orthodontics

Honda Cars of Rockwall

Justin Holland, Regal Realtors

Brian Llewellyn, State Farm Insurance Agent

Lake Pointe Medical Center

Law Office of Kim Timpa, P.C.

Lee Gilbert & Dick Huston

Bill and Mary Cadman

Patty Turner Group

Our House, Small Event Venue of Rockwall

Rockwall Area Chamber of Commerce

Rockwall Economic Development Corporation

Rockwall Women’s League

Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Rockwall

Toyota of Rockwall

Wells Fargo Bank, N.A.

Williamson Foundation Repair

Special shout-outs of appreciation go out to event co-chair Kendra Jones who worked so diligently in planning the event, and to Melody East and her staff for all of their hard work in ensuring the event’s success.

Story and photos by Austin Wells, Blue Ribbon News.

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