Creating holiday cheer

Local organizations and school groups decorate Christmas trees for a cause

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Jacob Bellamy, 4, helps decorate a tree put together by the Cape Horn-Skye preschool class.

From the Oregon Ducks to origami, the themes of 16 fully decorated Christmas trees varied as much as the designers’ imaginations.

The trees were auctioned off Saturday as a Washougal Lions Club fund-raiser for local schools. The event raised $3,200.

Although it is only in its second year, the number of participants decorating the themed trees doubled, from eight to 16. The event also included 30 donated gift baskets for bidding and raffle. Last year, 72 people registered to bid, this year that number reached 88.

“My favorite part of the decorating process is watching people and kids work on the trees, and the fun they have,” said Lions Club President Chuck Carpenter. “This year, we have more schools participating.”

Washougal River Christmas Trees donates the trees, and various community, business and school groups decorate them.

On Thursday, the scent of Christmas was in the air at Washougal Town Square, as the trees were decorated in preparation for the weekend auction.

Among the participants was the Cape Horn-Skye Elementary preschool class. Parent Julie McFall worked with others to complete the “Bits n’ Spurs” country themed tree.

“I just keep thinking about how beautiful it’s going to be,” she said.

Riverview Financial and Transition Designs collaborated on a tree that included mostly handmade ornaments, created using natural treasures gathered from walks along the Columbia River or area hikes.

Blaine Peterson, investment consultant with Riverview Financial, hand-made 18 birdhouse ornaments.

“I really loved the chance to be creative,” he said. “It’s fun to know I completed 18 birdhouses.”

Jessica Warta, a Gause Elementary School parent, helped put the finishing touches on an Oregon Ducks themed tree.

“Our principal, Rex Larson, is a avid Ducks fan so we thought we’d surprise him,” she said. “We bought a lot of the ornaments but also handmade several. It’s hard because the Ducks colors are green and yellow, and green blends in with the tree. So, we had to get creative. They’re going to the Rose Bowl this year, so hopefully this tree will appeal to all the Duck fans out there.”

The Washougal High School Readers Club members were busy decking out their origami themed tree.

Since students were not sure of how much money would be allotted by the school to spend on the project, they tried to be as resourceful as possible, creating origami ornaments out of discarded books and assembling colorful paper chains.

Xia Ye, an exchange student from China, enjoyed the decorating process.

“It is only my second time decorating a Christmas tree,” she said. “In China, some people decorate trees and I helped my neighbor once. My favorite part of decorating this tree has been making the origami and putting the lights on.”

WHS Librarian Kim Dillon said she’s enjoyed watching the students take the lead on the project.

“They are really taking charge,” she said. “They have been ultra responsible to make this event happen.”

It is the first year the club has decorated a tree, and Dillon credited assistant librarian Fran McCarty for helping it happen.

“She has been a huge help in getting everything together,” Dillon said.

Junior Cayden Gehrke was the team lead on the tree project.

“I was thinking that anyone can put regular ornaments on a tree, but not everyone would have origami,” he said. “I’ve always had a passion for it.”