By Wendy Gragg

Killeen Daily Herald

Surrounded by Christmas trees and gifts galore, Killeen-area folks mingled and made merry at the fourth annual Festival of Trees.

The festival, quickly becoming a seasonal favorite in the community, is a major fundraiser for the Armed Services YMCA.

Its fun instead of saying, Lets just sit here and raise money, said Cindy Davis, ASYMCA vice chair.

Davis said the event is expected to raise $20,000 to $30,000 for the nonprofit ASYMCA.

The money comes from people, from Copperas Cove to Harker Heights, who attend the festival to help out a good cause and maybe take home their own Santa Claus-like haul in the process.

Nine Christmas trees in full holiday regalia were raffle fodder. The winner of each tree not only took home the trees finery, but the booty beneath the tree as well. Each tree, sponsored by businesses, had an Elvis movie theme.

Wild in the Country, sponsored by Connell Chevrolet, was Texas-centric, sure to make any cowboy or cowgirl happy with plenty of Western gear.

Viva Las Vegas, sponsored by Wal-Mart Killeen, was a gamers dream, guaranteed to make visions of poker chips dance in anyones head.

Bob Sykes, manager of the Killeen Wal-Mart, said the festival is a favorite event of the Killeen store and he was proud to have the Copperas Cove and Harker Heights stores on board as well.

Its fun, this is a great organization, a great cause, Sykes said. Were just trying to help from all three cities.

From the mashed potato bar to the cash bar, people socialized and spread cheer, also stopping to bid on silent auction items.

The festival money goes to a range of projects from the 29 before- and after-school programs held at local schools to helping out military families and children. Davis said the ASYMCA is adopting about 1,400 soldiers families and trying to help them through family members deployments.

The ASYMCA will help out, buying gifts for the children and providing holiday activities for the families.

Even after the first of the year, we dont forget about them. Were going to try to have a barbecue every month, Davis said.

Other themed trees Tuesday night included a Texas Star Red-Hatter tree decked in red and purple and the Blue Christmas tree accompanied by outdoor decor for the whole house.

There are all kinds of things for everyone, said ASYMCA board secretary Alice Wooten.

Wooten said some small businesses buy a table at the festival and use the event as their holiday party.

Its just kind of grown and gotten better every year, she said.

Contact Wendy Gragg at

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