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Pictured are Todd St. Laurent, Stephanie Montoya, Jessica Lystad and Alyssa Duff of NDTI. Courtesy Photo

Ridgecrest citizens helped save Christmas Tree Village

RIDGECREST REGIONAL HOSPITAL(RRH) – A mild disaster triggered by a faulty sprinkler was largely averted when citizens rushed in to help save the fundraising holiday display during the Ridgecrest Regional Hospital Foundation’s annual Christmas Tree Village event on Saturday, Dec. 9.

“What started as a moment of panic really ended up as a heartwarming demonstration of our wonderful community coming together,” said Tera Moorehead, RRH Foundation director.

Each year the Women in Philanthropy, a subcommittee of the Foundation, creates an opportunity for visitors to bid on ornately decorated Christmas trees, complete with wrapped presents, that have been donated by different hospital departments and community organizations.

“This year the event raised money for our Senior Wellness programs,” said Moorehead.

Beginning at 9 a.m., more than 100 residents perused the display, sipped hand- crafted beverages from the hot cocoa bar and had their pictures taken by professionals from Stacey Herrera and Country Boi photography.

“Some time between 11:30 a.m. and noon we heard a strange popping sound from the ceiling, followed by a rush of air from the sprinkler spigots,” said Moorehead. “Someone called out ‘That means we have 15 seconds before the sprinklers come on!’”

After ushering all the people safely out of the building, a few ran back in to make sure all of the Christmas trees were unplugged. Soon after water came flooding out, soaking contents and flooding the room.

“I started trying to organize the recovery effort, and I realized people were just jumping in and helping without being asked — moving tables, carrying out pieces of the display, making photo copies of the bidding sheets. Within an hour we had everything set up outside,” said Moorehead.

“It was just so touching to see people come together this way. It reminded me that this is a special community, and people always come together in a crisis.”

Moorehead said that donations are still coming in, but so far more than $11,000 has been raised. “Because of the disruption at the event, I just wanted to let people know that if they feel so moved, they can still make donations online at rrh.org/rrh-foundation.” Donors can click “Donate Now” and select “Senior Wellness.”

“I just want to offer a huge thank-you to our community members and businesses that have supported the Christmas Tree Village through generous donations and creative displays. This program is made possible because we live in a community that is dedicated to giving back.”