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Christmas Tree Forest begins Tuesday in Worthington

A group of people look at last year’s Christmas Tree Forest. The annual fundraiser for Love INC will be 3:30-7:30 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday at the First United Methodist Church. The winners will be declared at a 7:45 p.m. ceremony Thursday. (Submitted photo)1 / 2
A closeup is shown of a decorated Christmas tree during last year’s Christmas Tree Forest. The annual fundraiser for Love INC will be 3:30 to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday at First United Methodist Church, Worthington. The winners will be declared at a 7:45 p.m. ceremony Thursday. 2 / 2

WORTHINGTON — A few years ago, Love INC was looking for an idea.

What came about was the Christmas Tree Forest.

“We were looking at just creative fundraisers for Love INC,” said Brian Frodermann, executive director of the nonprofit organization. “All the ideas we looked at, we wanted something that would give back to the community, so it wasn’t just an inward thing but an outward thing.”

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The third annual Christmas Tree Forest is open from 3:30-7:30 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday at First United Methodist Church, 408 11th St.,, Worthington.

“This idea came up, and it was a great way to involve businesses and start off the season with a good focus of fighting the over-commercialization of Christmas a little bit,” Frodermann said. “It seemed like win-win all the way around. It’s a nice community event, a good way for businesses to kick off the holiday season and for Love INC to raise some funds.”

The event will culminate with an award ceremony at 7:45 p.m. Thursday. 

“The way we choose the winner is people vote for their favorite tree with their donations,” Frodermann said. “Whichever tree gathers the most donations ends up being the winner. We’ll tally that up each night and on the last night we’ll tally it up and declare a winner on that Thursday night. 

“Something new this year is the silent auction on some decorated wreaths,” Frodermann added. “We’ll do the silent auction determination that Thursday night, also.”

The money raised will go toward the ministries of Love INC.

“It supports products and services for neighbors in need through the ministry of Love INC,” Frodermann said. “We have a helpline that screens needs — connects them with the best available resources in the community. We have gap ministries that fill the gaps in existing resources. We have a ride ministry, furniture ministry, personal care items. There is a whole variety of products and services that are available.”

There is no cost to attend, and cookies and hot cider will be served. 

Frodermann estimates more than 30 trees will be featured, with the trees decorated by local businesses. 

A year ago, Ron’s Repair claimed first place, with Johnson Eye Clinic and Jessica Noble State Farm taking second and third, respectively. 

“The first year was a good start and the second year we just about doubled both attendance and fundraising,” Frodermann said. “The first year we had 435 visitors and raised $2,900, plus a matching grant from Thrivent. The second year, we had over 760 visitors and raised $4,500 with a matching grant. It’s been a wonderful fundraiser.”

This year, Frodermann is hoping for even more people and donations.

“Each year we’ve heard more good things afterward from people in the community,” he said. “As word gets around, it grows and becomes bigger. \

“We are shooting for the moon. We are hoping for a $10,000 fundraiser. I’d love to see 1,500 people come through.”

Frodermann said there is often more need during the winter months.

“The temperature gets cold outside and people’s needs grow because of the cold,” he said. “Where you might be without electricity in the summer, in the winter it becomes harder to do.”

For those wanting to do more, Frodermann said there are other places to help. 

“There are lots of volunteer opportunities if people are looking to reach out,” he said. “In particular, we are trying to get some volunteer receptionists in the office. We have increased phone calls and walk-ins. There are lots of volunteer opportunities; they can just contact us if they are interested.”

As people get into the holiday spirit, the Christmas Tree Forest is a way to begin the season.

“It’s a great way to start off the holiday season and do something with your family — do something that doesn’t cost a lot of money and supports local individuals in need in the process,” Frodermann said. “It’s an all-around fun event.” 

Daily Globe Community Content Coordinator Aaron Hagen may be reached at 376-7323.