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Bright Lights, Big Hearts

Providence Community Health Foundation raised about $100,000 during the auction of elaborately decorated Christmas trees that opened the 18th annual Festival of Trees at the Medford Armory.

A tree called "All Fun & Games," fetched the highest price, $13,500, in Wednesday night's bidding. Sponsored by Shenanigans, and designed by Lorrie Peterson, the tree incorporated a custom pool table, table top soccer, and table tennis.

Thirty-three large trees were auctioned at an average price of $3,000, said Lauren Van Sickle, a spokeswoman for Providence Medford Medical Center.

The festival is the Providence foundation's signature fundraising event, and it has raised nearly $5 million for new medical equipment and hospital programs since it began in 1992.

Proceeds from this year's festival have been earmarked for the Providence Breast Center to acquire a new high-technology imaging device that will help physicians diagnose breast cancer earlier and with more certainty.

The trees can be viewed by the public from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. today and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. Admission is $5 for adults; $3 for people over 60 and under 12.

Friday night marked a new phase of the festival, an "Evening of Giving," when the armory was opened to children and families who might not otherwise have a Christmas celebration. At least 800 children were expected to enjoy a scavenger hunt, storytelling, and arts and crafts activities. Each child received a book and a goodie bag.

The children's evening reflects Providence's commitment to care for the poor and vulnerable, said Jodi Barnard, executive director of the Providence Community Health Foundation.

"There's been amazing community support," Barnard said.

People attending the festival can buy a Christmas tree at the same time. Southern Oregon Nursery and Boy Scout Troop 17 will sell undecorated trees in a tent outside the armory. Part of the proceeds will go to Providence.

Reach reporter Bill Kettler at 776-4492 or e-mail bkettler@mailtribune.com.

Three-year-old Kalynn Breedlove and her great-grand mother Eloise Kausler admire the Race to the Finish tree designed by Ian Lambert at the Providence Festival of Trees. The tree won in two categories, most original design and childrenís choice. Bob Pennell / Mail Tribune photo - Bob Pennell