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Festival of Trees Helps Special-Needs Kids

By Olivier Uyttebrouck
Journal Staff Writer
          Special-needs kids will get an early Christmas gift this weekend when the Carrie Tingley Hospital Foundation cranks up its annual Festival of Trees fundraiser at Sandia Resort and Casino.
        The event features 32 decorated Christmas trees and dozens of other items, all available for purchase by silent auction.
        The proceeds will help pay for programs, services and equipment for kids who struggle with severe and chronic illnesses. At least 6,000 visitors are expected to attend the three-day festival.
    "This year, we expect to raise over $50,000, which is critical to the families we serve," said Dawne Bell, executive director of Carrie Tingley Hospital Foundation.
        The foundation is the charitable arm of Carrie Tingley Hospital, the state's only pediatric rehabilitation hospital, which became part of the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center in 1981. The 24-bed in-patient unit is housed in the Bill and Barbara Richardson Pavilion at UNM Hospital.
        The Carrie Tingley Hospital Foundation was founded in 1963 to help special-needs kids both in the hospital and at home, Bell said.
        This year, the foundation provided emergency grants averaging $1,000 each to about 150 families to pay for equipment and services, such as wheelchairs and travel expenses for out-of-state medical care.
Albuquerque Journal Toy Drive
The Albuquerque Journal is collecting toys through Dec. 15 for special-needs kids. Bring new, unwrapped toys, games, puzzles or books to the lobby of Journal Center, 7777 Jefferson NE. Especially needed are toys for older children. Your gifts will be delivered by the Carrie Tingley Hospital Foundation.
    The foundation also supports a variety of programs meant to improve the lives of special-needs kids, such as a weeklong wheelchair sports camp that served 50 kids in June.
        It also provides grants to Carrie Tingley Hospital for the purchase of specialized medical equipment. This year, the foundation bought a $70,000 instrument that measures bone density, which often degrades in kids with chronic disorders, Bell said.
        Corporate sponsors were busy Wednesday decorating Christmas trees at Sandia Resort and Casino in preparation for the festival.
If you go
WHAT: Carrie Tingley Hospital Foundation’s Festival of Trees.
WHERE: Sandia Resort & Casino, 30 Rainbow Road NE.
WHEN: 10 a.m.-7 p.m. today and Saturday, and noon-5 p.m. Sunday.
COST: Attendance is free. The public can buy trees and other items by silent auction.
        "We just felt like it was a great cause," said Krissy Williams, marketing coordinator for Dion's restaurants, who decorated a tree with homemade ornaments and topped it with a chef's hat.
        "We like to give back to the community, and we thought this would be a fun way to do it for Carrie Tingley," she said.

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