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Sold-out gala benefits Challenged Child

POSTED: December 11, 2007 7:19 a.m.

GAINESVILLE — The trees are trimmed and the wreaths have been hung for this Saturday’s Festival of Trees Gala, benefiting Challenged Child and Friends.

The fourth annual event will be held in a four-story, New England style barn owned by Bob and Red Buisson.

"It’s gorgeous," Challenged Child fundraising event coordinator Lee Highsmith said of the venue. "It doesn’t look like anything you would see around these parts."

The sold-out event — more than 350 tickets were sold — will feature a string quartet from the Gainesville Symphony Orchestra and both live and silent auctions.

The gala is the year’s biggest fundraising event for Challenged Child and Friends, an early intervention program that provides children ages 6 weeks to 6 years with developmental disabilities with nursing, therapies and family support in a preschool environment.

Last year, the event raised $70,000, and Highsmith said they are hoping to outdo that amount this year.

During the gala, attendees can bid on a variety of items, from artwork to Christmas trees.

Christmas trees come in three sizes — seven feet, four feet and tabletop — and each has been trimmed with its own special theme by local businesses and decorators.

Wreaths in three different sizes, each also with its own theme, will be included in the auction, as well as 40 pieces of art including paintings, carved bowls, pottery and sculpture.

"The artwork is just unbelievable," Highsmith said.

Many pieces of jewelry also will be auctioned. Items include a diamond and sapphire bracelet, chocolate and white diamond earrings and a woven sterling silver bracelet with citrine accents.

Perhaps the most special piece of jewelry is created each year by Thomas Scanlin, owner of Studio Jewelers in Dahlonega.

Every year, Scanlin designs a piece of jewelry specially for the Festival of Trees Gala. This year’s set is called "Hugs and Kisses."

The handmade platinum pendant holds a delicate star with one 0.25 carat Russian-cut diamond on top; the matching earrings can be worn either as studs or dangling.

The jewelry "is just absolutely stunning," Highsmith said. "It’s so special."

Though this year’s gala is sold out, Highsmith said people can reserve tickets for next year’s event.


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