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Gala for the trees packs them in
Coastal Bryan Tree Foundation's biannual Root Ball a success
Midway Gallery owner Tina Eberlein, Rotary Club Treasurer Bill Eberlein, Rotary Club President Robbie King, Marsha King, Rotary Secretary Mark Bolton and Coastal Bryan Tree Foundation President Wendy Bolton. - photo by Ross Blair

The third floor of the Speir-Brogdon Building transformed Saturday evening into decorated gala to host the 2008 Coastal Bryan Tree Foundation’s Root Ball. The bi-annual event serves to provide the foundation with the funds it needs to plant trees all over the county.

Saturday’s event was catered by Reeves from Bluffton and boasted different types of coastal dishes including shrimp and grits. Attendees were able to mingle and eat to the sounds of the Ben Tucker Jazz Trio. Local photographer, Eric Hartley, was the featured artist and his framed work was on display throughout the room. A recent addition to the Root Ball festivities, the featured artist was the idea of the decorating committee, Rene Patton and Becky Kolgaklis.

Sonny Dixon, emcee for the event, announced the winners of the silent auction and called the live auction. Silent auction items included gift baskets, gift certificates from local establishments and local artwork.

"We have closed Section A," Dixon announced at the partial close of the silent auction. "There was some arm breaking and they are seeking medical attention," he joked.

Dixon continued the excitement into the live auction segment. Items auctioned off centered on the theme of coastal Georgia nature views. There were options for boat, foot or aerial tours of the coast. Many included meals and accommodations for four to eight people.

The live auction raised $3800. Coastal Bryan Tree Foundation President Wendy Bolton was thankful. "I am so appreciative for the room full of people who spent money on some great stuff to buy a lot of trees. It really is a great cause," said Bolton.

With more 200 people in attendance, Bolton considers it a success. The cost to buy and plant this year’s goal of 100 trees is $10,000. Bolton believes they have done that and is quick to point out that they are able to continue to do it through the dedication of the foundation volunteers. The foundation is run completely through volunteer efforts with all of the proceeds going to the planting of trees. "I would really like to thank the six members of the Root Ball committee that worked so hard," said Bolton. She went on to explain that those six members are solely responsible for the entire production of the Root Ball. "They do all of the planning, getting the donations, tracking progress, press releases and booking the venue, caterer and entertainment," Bolton explained.

This volunteer effort is responsible for planting trees along highway 144, down Harris Trail, Piercefield Park and J.F. Gregory Park. Forty of the 100 trees planned for this year have been placed at the new Henderson Park. The remaining 60 trees are also slated for that area.

Bolton also recognized the efforts of local sponsors.

"There is no doubt our economy is tough right now," said Bolton. "We had some sponsors really step up. Instead of cutting back, they doubled. It really makes you feel like you are really doing a good thing."

The Root Ball is held every other year. However, the work of the foundation continues all year, every year. For more information, or to find out what you can do to help, contact Wendy Bolton at 727.2544 or visit

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