WHITMAN — Selectmen on Tuesday, Oct. 20 approved a Dollars For Scholars request to hold a new kind of holiday fundraiser — Decorate For Dollars — a holiday tree-lighting in Whitman Park.
“We’re trying to make something exciting for the town to look forward to,” said DFS volunteer Michelle LaMattina. “Nice, a little bit competitive, but also socially distanced. … We’re looking for it to be a nice event to brighten everybody’s holidays a little.”
The hope is that the project can be continued year-to-year.
LaMattina has already presented her idea to Bruce Martin of the DPW, who supports it, she said. No details on participation have been released to the public, yet until DFS receives the permission and support of town officials.
“I can’t wait to see what the park looks like with a lot of decorated trees on it,” Selectmen Chairman Dr. Carl Kowalski said, noting Whitman has not had that kind of spirit in the town for a while since WinterFest was discontinued.
“Every year we raise a lot of money for the seniors in Whitman and Hanson through fundraising and door-to-door,” LaMattina said. “Obviously, this year it’s going to be very tough to fundraise because of COVID, so we’ve been trying to come up with some new ideas.”
LaMattina said COVID restrictions have meant it will be a tough year to raise funds for scholarships as many fundraiser events had to be cancelled.
Decorate For Dollars will allow individuals, families, neighborhoods, clubs, organizations or companies to sponsor a tree for $100. DFS will provide the trees and lights, setting them up right after Thanksgiving. Sign-up times will be allotted to tree sponsors to come and decorate the tree to their liking, LaMattina said.
To make it interesting, DFS will be making the display competitive, with the committee voting on which trees display the best holiday spirit. The winners will be able to award a scholarship in their name to a graduating senior at the May awards night ceremonies.
DFS would limit decorating crews to four people within each group, which will be timed, required to wear masks and observe social distancing guidelines.
Over the first two weekends in December, from 5 to 8 p.m., Friday to Sunday, the trees will be illuminated for the public to view.
“Whether you want to drive around, if you want to get out of your car — but we will have DFS volunteers making sure there aren’t groups of people congregating,” she said.