By LOIS KINDLE
Need a fully decorated Christmas tree? The South Shore Regional Library will have almost 20 of them up for grabs Nov. 12 through Dec. 9 during the Friends of the SouthShore Library’s Festival of Trees.
Starting at 10 a.m. on the 12th, area residents can bid on any of 18 standard-size, artificial trees and five tabletop trees and assorted wreaths, many themed and each artfully decorated.
The annual silent auction, which began in 2010, raises money for the Friends group to support library programs benefiting the public. Initially held at Ruskin Elementary School, the event was adopted by the Friends the following year and moved to the SouthShore Regional Library.
“All of our funds go toward helping the library offer programs for children, teens and adults,” said Frances Hereford, SouthShore Friends board member and festival chairwoman. “We pay for things the library budget doesn’t include or postpones due to lack of funding. We help with whatever they need.”
“Last year we gave more than $45,000 in funding for the library and expect that figure to be higher by year’s end,” added John Smith, president.
Bids will be accepted until 5 p.m. Dec. 9, at which time those with the highest bids will be notified to pick up their trees on Saturday or Sunday, Dec. 10 or 11.
Although the Friends have set up all the decorated trees at this point, the 501(c) 3 nonprofit group is still looking for additional sponsors to reimburse it for the cost of buying four of them and their decorations. The requested donation is $100 for the small trees and $250 for the larger ones.
“We can theme them any way the donor wants, and we supply signage to let people know who paid for the tree,” said John Smith, Friends president.
Sponsors thus far include Pearson Capital, A & A Mortgage, Beanie’s Family Sports Grill, Miller Florida Homes, Ruskin Woman’s Club, H&R Block and M&M Printing. Some have covered the cost of multiple trees.
From 5 to 9 p.m. Nov. 12, the Friends will host a special event to celebrate the SouthShore Regional Library’s 10th anniversary. Open to the public, the free event will include refreshments.
Community leaders who helped start the library have been invited, including Jim Harkins, Jim Duffy and former Hillsborough County Commissioner Jan Platt. Hillsborough County Commissioner Sandy Murman will also be present.
“We will be celebrating the vision and collaboration of community leaders who made the library possible and highlighting the services the library provides the people of South Shore,” said John Smith, event emcee and Friends president.
Staff members will provide tours of the library, including The Hive, a cutting-edge video and production studio; the John Crawford Art Education Studio and Collection; Jim Duffy Community Room; Children’s Library; Harkins Sandpiper Plaza; Genealogy Center; computer area, bookstore and vending café.
The 40,000-square-foot, $10.1-million SouthShore Regional Library, the 25th and largest branch library (in square footage) in the Hillsborough County Public Library Cooperative, opened in October 2006. Its first branch supervisor was Eloise Hurst and the current one is Cheryl Wolfe.
Located at 15816 Beth Shields Way, Ruskin, its hours of operation are 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 12:30 to 5 p.m. Sunday.
For additional information about the library, call 813-273-3652. To join the Friends group or make a donation to help its efforts, stop by the library or call Smith at 813-454-5465.