St. Vincent de Paul alumni help create Festival of Trees entry

Friday, Nov. 25, 2016

By Laura Vallejo

Intermountain Catholic
SALT LAKE CITY — Five years ago Mia Peterson was born with a heart abnormality that led her to stay at Primary Children’s Hospital intensive care unit for open heart surgery. She had a successful recovery, and this year will mark the fourth year that her extended family has participated in the Festival of Trees as a way to show their gratitude.
The Festival of Trees is the main fundraiser that the Intermountain Health Systems has for Primary Children’s Hospital. The festival is independently organized by a volunteer board of 89 women, who each lead a committee of 10 individuals.
     This year, Mia’s twin cousins Chris and Tess McTeague approached Gary Green, principal of Saint Vincent de Paul School, to invite the school to participate in their endeavor.  The McTeagues, now juniors at Judge Memorial Catholic High School, are graduates of St. Vincent de Paul School.
      The Festival of Trees entry that the Peterson/McTeague family is somewhat different from in the past.
     “This year, instead of a Christmas tree, a giant Santa sled with giant reindeer was constructed, and the sled is being filled with toys,” said Kim McTeague, Chris’ and Tess’ mother and Mia’s aunt.
To help, Saint Vincent de Paul students had a toy drive to collect items for the sled.
     “Everybody had the chance to participate,” said Green, adding that the school, in conjunction with Saint Vincent de Paul Catholic Church parishioners, have collected a lot of toys.  The Saint Vincent de Paul community is very generous, Green said; “They always respond, and things like this just reinforces what we already know about the families and the parish here at Saint Vincent’s.”
     “I think Primary Children’s hospital is a big part of the community, it was really nice to become involved with this project,” said Green, adding that the hospital has helped a good number of people from the school, his own children included.  The school is always open to help alumni, “and if to that you add that Tess and Chris were very good students here, it was really easy to just say ‘Let’s do it,’” said Green.
     The sleigh for the Festival of Trees is 8 feet long and 4 feet tall and the reindeer are 8 feet tall and about 5’6” in length.  “They are constructed of wood that can be displayed either outside or inside, whichever the buyer would prefer,” said Shona Peterson, Mia’s grandmother who is a member of the Festival of Trees’ executive board.
     The Sleigh and all the toys will be up for bid during a silent auction on opening night of the Festival of Trees, which will be Nov. 29. To participate in the opening night auction, purchase a 5 o’clock bid number by contacting Primary Children’s Hospital Foundation at 801-662-5959 or
After the opening night auction, the Festival of Trees will run from Wednesday, Nov. 30 through Saturday, Dec. 3, from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.
      “All proceeds from the festival go to help the children and their families at Primary Children’s Hospital,” said Peterson. “While this holiday magic lasts only four days, it continues throughout the year in the hearts of those who volunteer and support the Festival of Trees. Most of all, the magic continues in the lives of children. Every penny raised is used to give ‘a gift of love’ to children at Primary Children’s Hospital.”