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Festival of Trees raises $9,000
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If this year's success is any indication, the annual Festival of Trees celebration is going to be a holiday mainstay in Covington for years to come.

The silent auction and raffle event, which was first held in 2010 before taking a hiatus in 2011, raised more than $9,000 this year. The event's organizer presented a check to the Miracle League of Newton County this week; the money will go specifically to help purchase playground equipment at the Miracle League complex.

Lisa Conner, one of the organizers, said her initial goal was to simply double the $2,500 worth of donations collected in 2010.

"The community was outstanding in their donations," Conner said. "It was a blessing...the response from the community was so overwhelming, from the businesses and groups, whether it was a tree, item, gift card or gift certificate."

Groups donated 27 Christmas trees with various themed decorations, along with 100 other items, including wreaths, other decorations and gift cards. Among the donations were a train donated by Sam Ramsey, owner of Ramsey's Furniture, and a boys and girls 20-inch bicycle from the Newton County Sheriff's Office.

Tamara Richardson, consultant for the Miracle League, thanked Conner and fellow organizer Saba Tanner, of First Baptist Church, for all their efforts.

"They were the workers and the creative genius behind it all. We, obviously, were thrilled to be selected as the beneficiary," Richardson said in an email.

Dawn Atha, Linda Hanna, Laura Bertram, Latrelle Cawthon and Kelli Hopkins also donated much of their time along with Anita Still and Janet Longhart of the recently-chartered local Optimist Club. Conner said there were also several volunteers from First Baptist and First United Methodist churches.

Richardson also thanked Lee and Kendra Mayfield for allowing the event to be hosted in the former Mayfield Hardware location on the square.

New location needed
However, organizers anticipate and hope that the Mayfield's location will be leased out to a new tenant by next Christmas, which means the Festival of Trees will be looking for a new location in 2013.

Conner said the festival really needs to find a permanent location, so that it can start to build up a tradition by being located in the same spot year after year.

Anyone who has a location for the event is invited to contact Conner at (678) 459-7752 or Anita Still at Still is the president of the local Optimist Club, which will be taking over the event's organization in 2013.

In addition, Conner is asking for people to donate any new or gently used Christmas decorations that they don't want, which can be used in next year's festival raffle and silent auction. The organizers can take those items anytime.