Brett Mundy, brow furrowed, diligently hammered nails into a wooden fire truck. The 8-year-old held up the crooked project proudly, examining his work.
"We messed up a little bit, didn't we?" asked Aleesha Derosier, a volunteer from Home Depot who was helping out Saturday at the annual Festival of Trees craft fair.
Held by the Junior League of Duluth at Lake Superior College, this year's festival included a Santa's workshop, where kids could make gifts. On Saturday, Home Depot ran the workshop, and today, Great Lakes Aquarium will hold one.
Mundy, of Duluth, was making a fire truck bank for his dad, but had some problems pounding the nails accurately.
Another volunteer, Donna Bergum, expertly pulled out each one as Mundy watched in anxious awe. Clad in an orange Home Depot apron, Mundy began again. Under Bergum's watchful eye, the truck was completed with nary a pounded finger. Once Mundy hung the pop-out ladders onto the little metal hooks on the side of the truck, he beamed with accomplishment.
"I'm gonna paint it red and yellow when I get home," Mundy said. "My dad likes to have piggy banks."
Chris Kelly is in charge of workshops for kids at Home Depot, held once a month. Saturday's volunteers brought projects, varying in difficulty, for kids to construct while parents shopped.
"They're miniaturized for kids," he said, and added that they help kids develop skills and confidence.
The festival, in its 19th year, raises money for the Junior League's many projects that benefit women and children. Those include a program that provides stocked backpacks for kids, a non-violence curriculum for schools and Kids in the Kitchen, a new program meant to fight childhood obesity, festival co-chairwoman Jane Worley said.
The organization held an online auction before to this year's festival and raised $5,000. Worley hopes the festival will bring in $36,000.
"This is our biggest fundraiser of the year," she said.
The fair was crammed with 133 crafters and vendors, hundreds of shoppers, 900 pounds of the Junior League's signature toffee and 23 trees adorned with ornaments ranging from birds to musical notes.
"It's always been a really good kickoff for the holiday season," Worley said, especially because it's held during the deer season. "Someone said the other day, the men are out hunting and the women are here gathering."
The 19th annual Festival of Trees continues from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. today at Lake Superior College, 2101 Trinity Road. Low cost child-care is available. Admission: $4, kids 12 and younger free. Bring a food shelf item for a 50 cent discount. See www.juniorleagueduluth.org for details.
JANA HOLLINGSWORTH is a general assignment reporter. She can be reached Tuesdays through Saturdays at (218) 279-5501 or by e-mail at jhollingsworth@ duluthnews.com.