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Annual United Way Tree of Lights campaign sets $50K fundraising goal

The campaign kicks off with tree lighting on Nov. 29
tree of lights nov 12/21 10
Citizen Photo by James Doyle. A 50-foot tree is moved into place on the roof of the Coast Prince George Hotel by APA on Friday afternoon. The tree will be the centrepiece of the United Way of Northern B.C.'s Tree of Lights campaign.

The United Way of Northern BC (UWNBC) is set to kick off the Tree of Lights campaign next week. On Monday (Nov. 29) the annual campaign will begin again.

The Tree of Lights is a fundraiser to help fill the gaps that have emerged in the second year of the pandemic and also serves as a beacon of hope and joy to unite residents during the holidays.

The funds raised will focus predominantly on addressing the most urgent and pressing local community needs.

On kick-off day, the tree will be fully lit at 4 p.m. to mark the beginning of the campaign but then will be turned off half an hour later at 4:30 p.m.

The tree will then be gradually lit up string-by-string throughout the campaign as donations come in.

People in Prince George will also have the opportunity to drive by the United Way Office and donate while not even leaving their vehicle.

“Our mission of improving lives by connecting resources to the local needs is the driving force behind this newly visioned campaign. Our ongoing outreach to local agencies has made it evident how critical social service programming and services have been through the pandemic,” says the organization in a statement.

“We continue to see that an extraordinary amount of help is needed to ensure these agencies keep up with the demand that has increased significantly and shows no sign of changing.”

In an effort to bring together resources to address the rapidly growing needs in the local community, the goal this year has been set to $50,000. This will support vital social service programming and fill the gaps that the pandemic has created in the social service sector right in Prince George

“Watching the Tree of Lights be re-lit and seeing residents, businesses and organizations come together to provide important resources to those in our community who are struggling during the holidays is uplifting and inspiring,” said Kevin Horsnell,  a vice-president at Canfor, who are sponsoring this year’s campaign.

“This tree is about much more than a tree, it’s about the greater community. It’s about coming together to help our families, friends, and neighbours. This tree is truly a symbol of hope, a beacon for us to come together at this magical time of the year. We look forward to sharing all the wonderful things we have planned with Prince George and we know that as they have every year, the community will help us achieve our goal to help those that need it most,” said Trista Spencer, executive director of UWNBC.

The 2021 campaign will also include a weekly Tree of Lights draw. For 24 days, starting on Nov. 29, a prize from a local business will be unveiled daily leading to a weekly draw every Monday of the campaign.

A donation of $25 and above will guarantee entry into the draw to win the local packages.

UWNBC will also be organizing several item drives throughout the campaign to collect essential items that address issues like poverty, children’s literacy and employment.

These item drives will take place on Dec. 3, Dec. 10, and Dec. 17 and the details of the kind of items needed can be found online.