By Abbey Prevost
For the month of December, come and experience the Christmas spirit in Black Mountain and the Swannanoa Valley as the community partakes in the annual Deck the Trees event. The Monte Vista Hotel, as well as numerous other local businesses, will display an impressive collection of more than 40 uniquely decorated Christmas trees centered around the theme Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree. The purpose of Deck the Trees is to support the fuel fund of the Swannanoa Valley Christian Ministry (SVCM), which provides assistance for those who are unable to heat their homes in the winter months. Each tree will be displayed along with a QR code that will allow people to instantly donate, as well as a collection box for cash or check contributions. The donations also count as a vote for that tree. The votes are tallied at the beginning of January to decide which trees have earned the most donations, and which have best represented the theme.
Libba Fairleigh is the coordinator for Deck the Trees. She says that the event creates positivity and joy for the entire community. “I am humbled when a person who has decorated a tree for their business in Black Mountain tells me how decorating the tree for the Swannanoa Valley Christian Ministry and having the tree in their location has brought back for them some of the magic of Christmas,” she says. “Families bring their children to the Monte Vista Hotel and watch them as they walk in wonder, studying each tree. Many families will give their child money and let them pick out their favorite trees. It can take a child a long time to select their favorite tree to give their dollar to.”
Fairleigh also emphasizes the importance of the fundraising aspect of Deck the Trees. “Every cent that is donated to Deck the Trees goes to the fuel fund of the SVCM,” she says. “Each year during the winter months, heating homes is one of the major needs of families in the Swannanoa Valley. Heating costs that include fuel oil, electric and gas bills or even firewood have escalated over the years. Over the past 12 years, Deck the Trees has raised more than $250,000 for the fuel fund.” Even with this impressive total, the needs of the community are still not entirely met, so every donation is greatly appreciated.
Participants in Deck the Trees can be found all over Black Mountain and the Swannanoa Valley. The largest collection of trees will be on display at the Monte Vista Hotel, located at 308 West State Street. For a complete list of participating businesses, and to vote for trees online, visit SVCMBlackMountain.org. Abbey Prevost is a senior at UNC Asheville and a fall intern for The Laurel.