Festival of Trees nets high bid of $2,150

As some Pine Hills volunteers load the trees decorating the Town and Country Club from Friday evening’s Festival of Trees, Molly Wendland, left, and Kent Doughty of Grounds for Change prepare the last of the seasonal forest Monday morning for its trip to a new home, making sure all the holiday spirit the branches can hold stays on the tree. (Star photo by Steve Allison)


A Christmas tree decorated with $250 in Lotto tickets, cocktail mixes and other fun ornaments brought the high bid of $2,150 at the first Festival of Trees live auction held Friday evening, Dec. 6, in the Town and Country Club.

The tree was decorated by Hostman Consulting and was purchased by OptiBlend.

“The festival was really well attended, even though it was cold,” said Molly Wendland, community coordinator for Grounds For Change.

A tree decorated with clocks by Ravishing and Rugged brought the second highest bid of $675 from Lesh and Company. Mac’s Frontierland staff decorated a tree with gift certificates to their business and netted the third-place bid of $500 from Brawler Industries.

A total of 20 decorated Christmas trees were sold during the event, which was hosted by Grounds For Change (formerly the Southeastern Montana Health Coalition). The trees were decorated and donated by local businesses and organizations. Proceeds from the trees sold during the live auction will be used to help provide medical and dental care for those in need, assist in funding the FamFest Family Expo and to provide education and support of children and families in Miles City.

Also sold during the evening by silent auction were centerpieces created by Miles City businesses and individuals. There was a tie for the highest bid of $150 each for a centerpiece created by Imagine That purchased by Jaci Phillips and one made by the Danforth family bought by Sharla Helland. A centerpiece by Frances and Esther received the next highest bid of $135 from Anine McCollum.

The Range Riders Reps also had their Chocolate Confectionery table set up and sold only chocolate items throughout the evening, with proceeds going to the Range Riders Museum and Grounds For Change.

Entertainment was provided by Sarah Pett, who played the harp, and the BS (Barber Shop) Quartet. Exit 53, a band from the Custer, Hardin, Hysham area, played after the auction.

In addition to Wendland, members of the Grounds For Change group are: Tabitha Williams, Carla Bichler, Sylvia Danforth, Kent Doughty, Kami Doughty, Lucy Corbett, Wendy Richards, Antonia Kline, Sarita Fenner and Jacklynn Liles.

Grounds For Change members, assisted by Pine Hills Youth Correctional Facility students, delivered the trees Monday. Rob Pierson provided an enclosed trailer for delivery. 

“The Grounds For Change group, I just can’t say enough good about the members. It is such an amazing group,” said Wendland. “They [the members] can make anything happen!”

She added, “This [the festival] is Kent’s idea, and it turned out beautifully. All our sponsors who did trees and centerpieces did a great job!”

Grounds For Change is located at 210 S. Winchester Ave. in Miles City. For more information, phone 874-3377, option 2, then option 6, contact them via email at: m.wendland@groundsforchangemt.org.