Red Deer’s volunteers among the best in the country

With over 2,500 volunteer hours needed, it’s safe to say the Festival of Trees wouldn’t be as successful without the volunteers.

Luckily though, Red Deer has many people willing to donate time in support of the festival and on Thursday night their hard work was recognized.

Robert Bilton, board chair for the Red Deer Regional Health Foundation, was on hand at Stockmen’s Pavillion to celebrate Volunteer Appreciation night and said he’s not at all surprised with the amount of people willing to help.

“I’ve had the great fortune to grow up here and I’m not surprised. People in this community volunteer more hours than almost any other community in Canada. It’s sort of infectious. The more people do, the more it catches on. They’re wonderful people,” said Bilton.

Volunteer appreciation raffle winner Lois Dobbes took home $1,000 and although she was grateful for the prize, it means much more to her to be able to give back to the community.

“My parents volunteered, I volunteer and my kids volunteer. It’s a great way to give back. Volunteering is a great thing to do and I love it,” said Dobbes.

For nine-year-old Abiagail Kondrat, she spent the night handing out raffle tickets.

“I thought it would be fun and it gives me something do. The trees are beautiful and I like being here a lot,” said Kondrat.

Alaine Martin, events manager for the Red Deer Regional Health Foundation, said it was attitudes like Kondrat’s that make this event possible.

“We have a core group that has worked tirelessly all year planning the event. They’re here for set up, serving goods, selling tickets, running the silent auction, using their computer skills and logistics,” said Martin.

“Pretty much every talent out there was utilized to some degree.”

Funds raised from the Festival of Trees will go towards the second phase of the Medical Specialty Clinic at Red Deer Regional Hospital and Bilton said having so many volunteers helps make better use of the money.

“Because these volunteers do all the work, virtually every cent that people donate to this cause ends up going to the hospital. It’s remarkable,” said Bilton.

For a complete schedule of events happening this weekend visit www.reddeerfestivaloftrees.ca.

jonathan.guignard@reddeeradvocate.com

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