When you’re a child, there’s nothing quite like Christmas morning with toys under the tree. But a giant Christmas tree made of toys? Well, that’s truly a wonder to behold!
This holiday season, REALTORS® and business partners of the Quad City Area REALTOR® Association (QCARA) are helping to make dreams come true for area youngsters through the Quad City Arts Festival of Trees “Toy Tree” to benefit the Marines’ Toys for Tots program.
The two-story tree was one of the most popular attractions at the annual holiday extravaganza, held Nov. 19-29 at the Davenport RiverCenter in Davenport, IA. It was constructed by REALTORS® and other volunteers using toys collected during the QCARA’s “Pack the House” promotion. The Association’s miniature home-on-a-trailer, normally used to promote the REALTOR® brand in parades throughout the area, was transported to participating brokerages which hosted the house for a day. REALTORS® and their clients were encouraged to “Pack the House” with toys at each drop-off location. During the month-long drive, hundreds of toys were collected for the Toys for Tots program. Volunteers then carted the truckload of games, baby dolls and blocks to the RiverCenter to create the Toy Tree.
The special tree, a central attraction in the lobby of the exhibition hall, was created by punching small holes in the cardboard packaging and attaching the toys to metal scaffolding with plastic ties. A boom is used to reach the upper parts of the tree. Once all the toys are attached, the spaces between them are filled in with greenery.
Children loved to have their photos taken in front of the tree, according to REALTOR® Mikki Vrban Krantz, a QCARA member who helped with the tree’s assembly. “You should see their faces when they first see the tree,” she said. “They’re so excited.”
At the conclusion of the Festival of Trees, the toys were given to the local Toys for Tots campaign for distribution to underprivileged children. Nationwide, the program serves about seven million children, according to the Toys for Tots website.
QCARA, which serves REALTORS® in both Iowa and Illinois, has long supported the local Toys for Tots program with donations collected at the association’s annual holiday party, but this is the first year members have been involved with the Toy Tree at the festival. In prior years, REALTORS® have sponsored the “Johnny Comes Marching Home” giant helium balloon in the Festival of Trees Parade. Each year, thousands of visitors attend the 11-day festival, which benefits arts programs in the bi-state region.
“Our REALTORS® do a lot to help their communities,” says Sharon Carlson, CEO of QCARA. “This is just one more way they do give back.”
(This blog post is one in a series of blog posts about charitable community work performed by local Illinois REALTORS® during the last six weeks of the year. To see all the stories in the series, search for “charitable giving.”)