Once again, the trees were memorable.
While the snow fell softly outside, 33 teams decorated trees for needy families as part of the annual Branches of Love event. Seasonal music played and students and alumni chattered as their trees began to take shape. In one corner, donations of canned goods and clothes piled up to be taken to needy families as well.
In addition to using ornaments donated by the Alumni Association, a group of Spartan guides created ornaments out of pictures of campus buildings and made a tree skirt from campus maps. Not surprisingly, they won the best school spirit award.
Another group made origami ornaments and placed a lantern on top of their tree. A group known as the alumni angels strung inspirational quotes around their tree. Still another group decorated with school supplies. The winners of the best homemade decorations filled branches with gingerbread cookie ornaments and included a box to make a gingerbread house.
They all had very thoughtful stuff, said Saundretta Caldwell, program assistant for student relations in the Office of Alumni Relations.
As the groups wound down, Alumni Association President Keith Ayscue, Chancellor Linda P. Brady and Student Government Association President Katie Marshall walked through the forest of sparkling trees and judged them in four categories.
The following day, Goodwill delivered the trees. Ten went to a shelter program run by the Salvation Army. The remaining 23 trees went to Partnership Village. Alumni and the Alumni Association also stuffed stockings that went along with the trees.
It was really heart-warming to see UNCG and Goodwill and Partnership Village come together to help the community, Caldwell said. People really love this event. Some groups were already planning for next year.