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Some of the trees on display at CAST’s Festival of Trees in 2020, which returns next weekend. Credit: CAST courtesy photo

CAST, the Center for Advocacy, Support and Transformation will hold its second annual North Fork Festival of Trees at Treiber Farms the weekend of Dec. 4.

A fun and family-friendly event, the festival showcases creativity and brings the community together in a spirit of holiday celebration and giving.

CAST’s mission, since its founding in 1965 has been to provide a safety net and promote self-sufficiency for North Fork residents in need, and this year’s festival aims to raise $100,000 in support of the expanded programs to serve the community when help is more needed than ever. 

Here’s how it works: Twenty-two local businesses, artists and generous individuals are supplied with a 7.5 foot pre-lit tree. Designers are encouraged to choose a theme, and get creative. For example, last year’s Schitt’s Creek and RBG-themed trees were big hits. Cindy Rowe partnered on a tree and used recycled plastics. When the decorating is done, the tree garden is open to the public with holiday music, homemade cookies and sitting areas for relaxed tree appreciation and family photos.

Designer’s Choice and People’s Choice Award winning trees, will be auctioned off along with local art to the highest bidders to benefit CAST, and winning bidders can have a fully-decorated tree delivered to their home or office.

CAST has been growing and changing to meet the needs on the North Fork during the pandemic, said executive director Cathy Demeroto.

“We certainly had a tremendous increase in people seeking services, and we are still seeing that elevated need,” she said. “It has not gone down.  Most of our clients are hardworking people who are just struggling to make ends meet.” 

At the heart of their mission is serving the community with dignity, said Demeroto, “where people can feel good about walking in the door and getting help”

The new CAST headquarters has a client-choice food pantry and a fresh bounty pantry, set up like a grocery store, and areas for clients to meet privately with staff to get services.

The Festival of Trees will be held from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 4 and Sunday, Dec. 5 at Treiber Farms on 38320 Route 48 in Peconic.

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