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Festival of Trees lets joy sprout Kingwood in retirement community

December 14, 2018

Judy Crowell, after much deliberation, decided that the candy cane-themed Christmas tree from Toastmasters got her vote.

So she put a red raffle ticket into a nearby box, hoping that she will get to keep it if her name is announced at the drawing later in the night. Others — mainly residents of the Watercrest at Kingwood retirement community — could be seen mimicking Crowell at other 11 conifers, all of which were decorated and donated by local firms and groups prior to the Festival of Trees’ starting time of 5 p.m. Wednesday.

“I guess it’s because I like candy,” Crowell said of her vote, laughing. “But I’m not sure where I’m gonna put this one, I guess I’ll put it on the kitchen counter. I have a big counter area in my apartment that could probably hold that.”

Now in its third iteration, the free-to-attend event was set up to bring joy to the space as well as celebrating the season. There were treats to enjoy. An all-children choir was singing. Santa Claus was ready for any photo session.

A brief greeting with Humaira John, an ambassador of the establishment, would grant access to the “Winter Wonderland” upstairs.

John said that the attraction was made up of toys and models from a resident’s collection, making it ideal for younger guests. But an encounter with a child, she shared, rendered her as the event’s centerpiece instead.

“A little girl spotted me and she said, ’Mommy, that’s a princess! I want to go meet the princess!” she said. John is a Pakistani immigrant, and for the occasion she adorned herself in a steely blue-and-white gharara and maang tikka jewelry.

She had only love for the community since she moved here in 2015. John could be seen laughing and rejoicing with other residents throughout the raffle drawing and the announcement that the money spent on buying raffle tickets will go toward helping a cancer patient at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

Nichole Aldape, the hospital’s regional executive director, said everyone’s generosity made this “a magical night.” A total of $1,880 was raised.

“You’re helping kids around the world who are fighting cancer and everybody in their families,” she said to the residents. “The one thing they need the most right now this time of year is hope.”

This was the first festival that Debra Burton, the community’s executive director, attended, and she expressed much joy knowing that all the fun would support a great cause. She also won a tree.

“But they were all beautiful in different ways,” she said, citing St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital’s involvement as the reason.

Karen Humaran, the community’s marketing and sales director, said trees, upon receipt, could either be kept or be donated. She also announced details of the next Festival of Trees at the end of the raffle drawing.

“Same time, same place,” she said.

nguyen.le@chron.com

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