By LOIS KINDLE
The SouthShore Regional Library is lit like a Christmas tree now through Dec. 14 for the Friends of the Library 7th annual Festival of Trees.
“Other than monies we raise through our Book Sales Room in the library, the festival is our major fundraiser,” said John Smith, president of the Friends of the SouthShore Library board. “The trees make the library festive and beautiful during the Christmas season and puts everyone in the spirit of the holidays.”
Fourteen themed trees, complete with lights and ornaments, and numerous decorated wreaths will be ready for the highest bidders to take home Dec. 15, when the winners will be announced at the Santa Holiday Party. The family-friendly event will take place from 1 to 3 p.m. at the library, 15816 Beth Shields Way, Ruskin.
Santa will be on hand to chat and have photos taken with the kids, and there will be music, storytelling and light appetizers. The party will also feature friends’ membership opportunities and raffle for a special gift basket.
Sponsors for this year’s trees include the Ruskin Woman’s Club; Larry Brooks of A&A Mortgage; Don Pearson, of Pearson Capital; Linda Messman of Borman Construction; Michael Langjahr, of Sun City Center Funeral Home; Joseph Eletto, of Century 21 Beggins Enterprises; John Smith of H&R Block; Don and Chris Guiley, A+ Hearing; Miller Homes; and The SouthShore Business Association.
The trees were decorated by Penny Smith, Frances Hereford, Mimi Rose and other volunteers.
All proceeds will go to the Friends of the SouthShore Library, a 501(c)3 nonprofit group, which provides funding for programs for children, teens and adults not covered by the annual budget of the Hillsborough County Public Library Cooperative. Last year’s festival brought in about $2,000 after expenses, Smith said.
“By the end of this year, we will have spent $55,000 for (such) programs,” he said.
The 40,000-square-foot SouthShore Regional Library, the largest branch library in Hillsborough County, opened 12 years ago. In addition to its wide variety of resource materials in both English and Spanish, it features two dozen computers with public internet access and wireless internet service throughout the building. It also offers a variety of monthly arts, literacy and education programs for all folks of all ages.
The SouthShore Regional Library’s Genealogy Center, second only in size to the John F. Germany Public Library in Tampa, has dedicated computer workstations and both print and online resources for genealogical research.
The library also features an impressive Children’s Library, The Hive audio-visual studio, John Crawford Art Education Studio, a friends’ bookstore and vending area. Its head librarian is Frank Collia.
For more information on the SouthShore Regional Library and its programs, call 813-273-3652.