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Festival of Trees Gala raises funds, Christmas spirits
Annual benefit aids Challenged Child & Friends
The eighth annual Festival of Trees Gala on Saturday at the Buisson Barn benefits Challenged Child & Friends of Gainesville. The gala offers partygoers a chance to browse and purchase artwork, jewelry, home decor and more. - photo by SARA GUEVARA

The Christmas spirit was alive and well at the eighth annual Festival of Trees Gala.

The event offered a spectacular display of decorative Christmas trees and wreaths as well as paintings and artwork from local artists. The evening included live and silent auctions, with all proceeds benefitting Challenged Child & Friends Inc. of Gainesville.

Held at Buisson Barn on Lake Lanier, the event offered attendees the chance to browse the various items up for bid, from decor to kid-themed bundles, as well as jewelry and the many hand-decorated and designed Christmas trees donated by Gainesville residents.

David Earnest, executive director of Challenged Child & Friends, was delighted by the support from Buisson family and those who came to the event.

"The hospitality of Bob and Red Buisson is overwhelming," Earnest said.

"I think it's the perfect combination of people having a wonderful time for a wonderful cause. Events like this are so important. The supporters and donors are doing the children a tremendous favor."

The Festival of Trees Gala was organized by Beth Horton, co-chairwoman of the board at Challenged Child.

"We have local decorators who donated trees to be auctioned off. We also have art from local artists," Horton said.

"The best part is involving the community, getting our mission to serve the children of Northeast Georgia out, showing that we serve special needs children as well as typically developing children. I'm continually amazed by the generosity of the community."

The event boasted nine tables, each with an assortment of packages for the silent auction. Every table held at least one Christmas tree, with several more on the floor along with garlands and wreathes.

Artist Lenore Wells has attended the Festival of Trees Gala for the past three years.

"It's festive. It's fun to watch the live auction and see my friends," Wells said.

The Festival of Trees has raised more than half a million dollars for Challenged Child over the last eight years.

To learn more about Challenged Child & Friends, visit