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Volunteers decorate trees for annual ARC fundraiser

SALISBURY — Shari Graham and her Christmas tree co-creators Hen Henderlite and Tracy Smith took a trip to Tinseltown for supplies before they set to work.

The women spent Thursday decorating their tree for The Arc’s annual Festival of Trees fundraiser at the F&M Trolley Barn.

The fundraiser, which is in its ninth year, benefits clients with intellectual and developmental disabilities who receive services from The Arc.

Last year the fundraiser brought in $17,000 that helped supplement the program’s budget.

On Thursday, the Trolley Barn, 127 E. Liberty St., was filled with volunteers decorating their trees before the event kicks off tonight from 7-9 p.m.

Students from Carson High School also helped decorate trees.

The women have sponsored a tree and decorated it for last four or five years.

Graham said they sat around thinking about the holidays and decided to create a movie tree that included snacks, like popcorn and candy. The women went to the Salisbury movie theater and asked for used ticket stubs. The trio used the tickets like tinsel and wrapped them around the tree with red yarn.

The women also picked out their favorite Christmas movies, made copies of the DVD covers and placed them on the tree. The tree was also filled with clear ornaments that held different types of candy.

The fundraiser symbolizes the start of event chair Glenn Dixon’s holiday season. He spearheaded the event along with the various other committee chairs and volunteers.

Dixon said the event is possible because of the businesses and individuals sponsoring the trees. He and wife, Beth, are also tree sponsors. There are 50 trees this year.

The trees were stored in a vacant store, courtesy of Food Lion, Dixon said.

“Every tree is different,” he said.

The event is sponsored by Sara Lee, Wells Fargo, Food Lion, F&M Bank and other community partners.

Fonda Kirk and about half a dozen members of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc., graduate chapter, spent the day decorating their pink candy cane tree.

The women chose pink because it represented their sorority colors of pink and green.

Kirk said the women participate every year, sponsoring a tree and decorating.

“It’s a community activity and our motto is service to all mankind and we enjoy doing it,” she said.

It was the first year decorating and sponsoring a tree for the Rowan Breast Health Center.

Jill McNeely, a nurse navigator with the center, and Eric Edman volunteered their time to decorate. The tree, also pink, held Breast Cancer Awareness ribbon ornaments. Edman said the ribbon ornaments were purchased at Big Lots and the proceeds from that purchase will benefit breast cancer research.

McNeely said the idea for the tree was a way to bring awareness to the people who would see it.

“There’s never a season when breast cancer isn’t important,” McNeely said.

She said if it reminds one woman about getting a mammogram, then that would be the greatest Christmas gift.

The event will continue through the weekend from 11 a.m.-8 p.m. on Saturday and 1 p.m.-5 p.m. on Sunday. Admission is free.

For more information about the Arc of Rowan, visit www.thearcofrowan.org or call 704-637-1521.

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