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Fantasy of Trees opens at Convention Center
West Knox County schools’ students pitch in to help Children’s Hospital’s annual holiday fund-raiser

For the past 12 years, A.L. Lotts teacher Kathy Alexander has had her fourth-grade students create a gingerbread house for the Fantasy of Trees benefiting Children’s Hospital.

This year, her class went a step further and crafted handmade ornaments used to decorate the school’s Adopt-a-Tree. The tree and homemade house will be for sale with proceeds placed into a fund ensuring medical treatment for uninsured children.

“School is not just pushing a pencil or reading books,” Alexander said. “It’s also about the arts and teaching life lessons, learning to help others for a good cause.”

Alexander’s philosophy seems to be hitting home with her students.

Student Meghan Ward along with her fellow students donated candy used for the gingerbread house. “It’s always nice to help people in need,” Ward said.

Parent volunteers also donated their time and talent for the projects. Kay Smith worked with the students in pairs to construct the gingerbread house. “It was a learning experience for me, too,” she said.

Smith helped the children turn candy such as gumballs, Mentos, licorice and chewing gum into landscaping stone, shingles and shutters.

Connie Noland’s fourth-grade class also contributed to the adopted tree. The students’ blue, white and silver-colored ornaments included snowmen made out of lightbulbs and beaded snowflakes.

Andrew LaPlaunt most enjoyed working with wire and beads to make the snowflakes. He brought sugar cones for the gingerbread house.

Henry DeGroot said the Christmas art projects were “really fun and for a good cause.”

Alyssa Bragg was happy to be involved and “make money for Children’s Hospital.”

Members of Alexander’s class are also working together to buy gifts for an underprivileged family in the community. The children earn money at home so they can contribute. The class will be divided into groups, will shop together purchasing toys and clothing and wrap the gifts at Alexander’s home, afterward enjoying a holiday meal.

“The kids get the biggest kick out of picking out gifts,” she said. In addition, the students learn how to work with budgets and comparison shop.

The 20th annual Fantasy of Trees runs from Wednesday, Nov. 24, through Sunday, Nov. 28, at the Knoxville Convention Center.

It features more than 300 designer decorated trees and other festive accessories, holiday shopping, the Gingerbread Village, live entertainment and children’s activities including crafts, karaoke, rides on a carousel and face painting.

Additional area schools decorating Adopt-a-Trees are Farragut Primary and Middle schools and Cedar Bluff Primary and Intermediate schools. The Farragut High School Madrigal Singers performed Wednesday, opening day.

Seniors are invited to attend at half price for Santa’s Senior Stroll from 9 to 10 a.m., tomorrow, Nov. 26. The stroll is a one-mile walk through the Fantasy of Trees.

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