WATERVILLE — There is no fundraiser quite like the Sukeforth Family Festival of Trees, which is so popular it draws visitors by the thousands to the Hathaway Creative Center before the holidays.

“I am absolutely flabbergasted that a creative and brilliant new idea like this could generate such goodwill and such generosity and excitement in our community so quickly,” said Kimberly Lindlof, president and chief executive officer of the Mid-Maine Chamber of Commerce.

The festival last year featured 73 donated, decorated holiday trees and gifts that were given away to people who bought tickets drawn at the end of the festival.

Hosted by Doug and Rita Sukeforth and their family, the event raised money for Spectrum Generations’ Meals on Wheels programs in six counties, as well as Hospice Volunteers of Waterville Area.

“Last year, over $200,000 was raised — net,” Lindlof said. “I’m just very impressed with the Sukeforths. This was a great idea. It’s absolutely amazing. Their generosity is renowned around the region and they’re so humble about the giving that they do. I just think we’re truly lucky to have them in our region. Their generosity has touched so many lives.”

For the Sukeforths’ efforts, the Mid-Maine Chamber of Commerce is honoring the family with the 2016 Community Service Project of the Year award.

The Sukeforths will receive the accolade April 27 at the chamber’s 54th annual awards banquet, to be held at Kennebec Valley Community College’s Fairfield campus.

The Sukeforths’ daughter, Annette Sukeforth Marin, said she expects 13 family members, including her parents, will attend. She said her family likes to give back to the community, and that to be recognized in this way for doing so is truly an honor.

“It’s a big honor,” she said. “It means a lot to us.”

Sukeforth family members volunteer at the festival, which features trees decked out for the holidays and carrying special themes including holiday baking, camping, toys, beach fun and other activities. Businesses, institutions, nonprofit organizations, families and individuals donate the trees and gifts valued in the thousands of dollars. Patrons pay $2 to enter the festival and children under 12 are admitted free of charge. Patrons may buy tickets for 50 cents each and place them in buckets next to trees they wish to win. Also, 50-50 drawings are held during the festival and a special Santa’s Snack Shop is open during the event.

Susan Roy, executive director of Hospice Volunteers of Waterville Area, said the money raised for hospice through the tree festival allows her organization to expand its programming and outreach for Hope’s Place, a program for grieving children and teens, and the annual Camp Ray of Hope retreat.

“This event has given us the opportunity to provide more in-depth bereavement coverage to the central Maine area,” Roy said. “We are extremely grateful for the generosity and the tireless efforts of the Sukeforth Family and committee.”

Bob Marin, husband to Annette Sukeforth Marin, has been regional center director at both Spectrum Generations’ Muskie Community Center in Waterville and Somerset Community Center in Skowhegan for about a year. He said the money raised at the festival is used primarily for the Meals on Wheels program, but some other Spectrum Generations programs also benefit. The money help pay for delivery of meals to shut-ins in six counties — Somerset, Kennebec, Knox, Waldo, Sagadahoc and Lincoln.

“It helps us out immensely,” he said. “It’s mostly nutrition-related, which is wonderful right now because of everything going on.”

Marin said the Sukeforth family previously hosted a pig roast in Solon for many years to raise money and decided to host the tree festival in 2015. That first year, it netted more than $125,000, according to Lindlof.

Bob Marin said that last year more than 15,000 people attended the festival, which was possible because of a lot of volunteers.

“It’s a collaborative effort,” he said.

Amy Calder — 861-9247

[email protected]

Twitter: @AmyCalder17

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