For children in need of a safe home
By Joshua Nishimoto
Photo Courtesy of Kinderhaven
Kinderhaven is a community organization dedicated to supporting children in crisis and giving them back their right to thrive by providing a safe and secure home in which their emotional, physical and mental well-being are protected and enriched. For 19 years, Kinderhaven has been putting on an annual fundraiser called the Festival of Trees, until the COVID-19 virus struck and changed everything. This fundraising event traditionally funds 75 percent of Kinderhaven’s annual operating budget, so it is very important they find a way to continue fundraising during this Festival of Trees season.
“Last year we had COVID, which was before the vaccine was even available, and there was also the Governor’s orders to not have any gatherings over 50 people,” said Kinderhaven board member Jacinda Bokowy. “We decided that we couldn’t do an in-person event with 200 to 300 people. Traditionally, we’re in person, we’re eating together, you know, and we just couldn’t, in good consciousness, put our supporters at risk.”
So, Kinderhaven gathered their board members and began brainstorming ideas for ways to fundraise without having typical event festivities like Thursday night Family Night, where parents would bring their children to sit on Santa’s lap and drink hot cocoa; no holiday luncheon, with different organizations and businesses like Sandpoint Furniture purchasing tables and inviting their employees and or volunteers, often becoming their holiday party; no small silent auction and no Festival of Trees gala dinner. All of that was out the window. They had to come up with something new.
“During our brainstorming session, one of our board members said, ‘What if we did a tour of trees?” Bokowy said. “‘And instead of having all of us gather at one place, what if we reached out to local businesses and restaurants to host a tree in their windows? Even if we had to shut down, or even if the stores had to close, you could still view it from the window.’ So, we were like, ‘Okay.’ We totally winged it and said, ‘Let’s see what happens.’” And we didn’t have a single place turn us down.”
After getting such a positive response to all of their requests, Kinderhaven was hard at work to make sure that their event was a success. After solidifying participating businesses, they created a map of their tree tour so people would know where to go. They sent decorators to decorate the trees, and it even worked out as a win-win for businesses to attract customers looking to do their holiday shopping.
“It worked out really well,” Bokowy said. “We missed being able to see everybody, but with what we had to work with last year, it worked great, and we did really well. We were able to keep the doors open, and it was definitely a successful fundraiser for us.”
With the onset of COVID-19, Kinderhaven’s staff had to think fast and act even quicker to work with community partners to pull together a successful event. This year’s event will look similar to last year’s event, with a new element to get families with kids more involved.
“We are going to add a scavenger hunt for the kids,” Bokowy said. “This year, each tree will have a clue on it. We will provide a map with all of the trees, and when the kids visit the tree and find the clues, once they’ve filled in the map, they will turn in their map at our new downtown headquarters and be entered in for a drawing to win a special kid’s prize.”
This year Kinderhaven has established their downtown partner tree locations, along with their new downtown headquarters at 113 South Main, and are looking to throw another successful event.
“This year we can relax a little bit,” Bokowy said. “We were blown away by the community support we had last year. It’s just heartwarming all the support we get from our community.”
With the event fast approaching and new and exciting elements being added to Kinderhaven's Tour of Trees, it is sure to stand out. Kinderhaven’s Tour of Trees will take place across a number of days and will include the following events: the new scavenger event (for the kids), the silent auction, online bidding for baskets, wreaths and tabletop trees, the Sip n’ Slay raffle ticket drawing, tree decoration, Tour of Trees, and tree delivery to winning bidders on December 12.
“We are encouraging people to grab their friends and tour the trees together,” Bokowy said. “And then maybe go out to lunch or dinner at your favorite local restaurant. Pretty much everybody in town supports Kinderhaven, which is amazing! We love to support everyone who supports us.”
To get the most up-to-date information about Kinderhaven’s Tour of Trees, follow them on Facebook and Instagram. To get more information about Kinderhaven and their mission, visit their website at KinderhavenSandpoint.com.