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Second annual Festival of Trees promotes foster care awareness



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Snow sits on a branch in Bloomington last winter. The Festival of Trees on Nov. 24 is an unofficial start to the Bloomington holiday shopping season. Rose Bythrow Buy Photos

The second annual Festival of Trees will be 4 to 8 p.m. Nov. 24 at the Fountain Square Mall. The event is part of the Canopy of Lights celebration, which is the start of the holiday shopping season. 

The Festival of Trees includes a silent auction with items such as decorated trees, Disney World tickets and Indianapolis Children's Museum tickets. 

The goal of the event is to raise awareness toward foster care because there is a lack of foster families in Indiana, said Sheila Corey, director of Development for Open Arms Family and Education Services. 

This year, the silent auction items will be available for bidding at 8 a.m. Nov. 24 on the website or by text messaging fot2017 to 24700. In-person bidding begins at 4 p.m. that day onsite. 

The proceeds from the auction will go to Open Arms’ Foster Care Awareness and Cultivating Excellent Parents, or FACE, initiative. 

The initiative plans to use the money towards the training of foster parents, Corey said. Potential foster parents have home and background checks along with other training. 

Corey said approximately 8,000 kids enter the foster system each year in Indiana. 

Onsite at the event, children will have the opportunity to write and color letters to Santa which will be mailed to Santa Claus, Indiana, Corey said.

The event is run by Open Arms Family and Education Services. Their goal is to help kids and adults to succeed in life through their group home for girls, education center and foster training, Corey said. 

According to their website, Open Arms is a faith-based not-for-profit organization that has been committed to serving neglected, abused and troubled youth, by providing homes and education to those in need since 1985. 

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