LuLu's hosts Trees on the Coast fundraiser

The Destin Log

There was an excuse to wear your favorite pajamas out in public Saturday during the first Trees on the Coast fundraising event hosted by Lu Lu’s Destin.

Supporters enjoyed a night of live music, a silent auction, raffle and a toilet paper races. LuLu’s also helped by donating 10 percent of the bill back from patrons who participated by wearing pajamas.

Trees on the Coast works to improve the beauty of Walton and Okaloosa counties through tree planting, protecting existing trees and educating residents on the benefits of trees.

“The donations will go for the purchases of trees in public places, like parks, schools and street medians,” said Allen French, the non-profit organization’s executive director. "Since we started in 2015, we have planted over 200 trees in both counties."

French said he didn’t want to do a typical formal fundraiser gala, but instead wanted to do something more casual and fun.

“I try to think outside of the box and make an event that will be fun to attend,” he said. “I want to make this fundraiser an annual event. … If you are going to raise money, might as well have fun doing it.”

Local businesses donated over 60 auction items worth over $16,000. The raffle prizes included a $300 pearl necklace and half of the earning from the raffle ticket sales.

One of the highlights of the event was a Spam-sculpting contest, a Hawaiian tradition to prevent hurricanes.

“Our spam sculpting contest is a fun way to ward of hurricanes,” French said.

Having dinner and supporting the cause were James and Sheila Herbermann.

“We had a tree farm in Georgia and know how important trees are for the environment and educating people about how they benefit us, like giving out oxygen,” said Sheila, who along with her husband, retired in Santa Rosa Beach.

One of the newest Trees on The Coast board members, Monica Madel, said she helped spread the world about the organization and got local businesses involved in the silent auction.

“I joined because I want to help preserve our beautiful areas so people can keep enjoying them,” she said.

Madel, who joined in February,  said it’s everyone's responsibility to continue planting trees and educating our children.

“Tourists come and go. As locals, we need to come together and preserve our scenery,” she said.