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Embrace the Holidays and Embrace the Tree of Life - Shangri-La Hotels' Seasonal Fundraising Campaign

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I just returned from Kuala Lumpur (not that I am name-dropping or destination-dropping, as it were -- and that trip is another story, that will, fact, be another story in Promenade mag, our umbrella publication for NYLuxury.com), where I was blown away by the stunning Christmas tree in the lobby of that city's most cossetting (and gorgeous) of hotels, the Shangri-La Hotel.  It is, without a doubt, one of the most gracious, flawlessly designed, and well thought-out hotels I have ever had the pleasure to call home for a night or three. 

But, I wanted to write about the charity that is the "machine" behind the hotel's Yule tree...and save the hotel and my trip for another story, a larger one in the pages of Promenade.  The tree is called "Embrace the Gift of Life," and it is aptly named.

It is a grand tree in every way: crystalline white, gleaming, festive, and exceptionally elegant.  Upon closer examination, I saw that it was made up of many mini sugar trees, gingerbread men, and conical frosted ornaments--and obviously, had come out of the hotel's pastry kitchen...where, undoubtedly it took the pastry chef(s) days to prepare. But more importantly, it is a fundraising tree.  Each smaller tree is placed on a perch on the wrought-iron tree-armature as a result of a generous donation by local citizens, corporations, and interested parties; each ornament is designated to help a child in medical need.

The sums collected are donated to help kids who have been diagnosed with heart complications such as ventricular septal defect (VSD), a condition that manifests at birth, in which a hole is present in the wall that separates the right and left ventricles; and such as cyanosis, a condition that results in blueness of the skin, caused by lack of oxygen in the tissues and bloodstream. The charity also aids children who require artificial limbs.

I wanted to write about it, not because the tree was so beautiful (and it is), and not because in my former life as a crafts editor I would have featured such a magnificent, novel tree in my sundry magazines' how-to pages, but because it only underscores that the holiday spirit is alive and well all around the world. Shangri-La has been erecting this tree, promoting holiday-centric giving, since 1985, and it underlines that those of us who are more fortunate should not forget that all around the world are others in need.  Whether you give to local charities like New York Cares, which is mounting its 23rd annual coat drive, or City Harvest, or an international not-for-profit, or a specific charity that resonates with you personally, don't forget to give this time of year...people all over the world, in Timbuktu, Bora Bora, Kuala Lumpur, and right here in Gotham are all remembering that it's a time to share -- it's not merely a time to shop.

Posted on December 22, 2011 - by

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About the Author: About the Author: Ruth J. Katz is a well-known shopping and service writer based in New York City. She has written about shopping for 25 years for New York magazine; covered the topic on-air at Fox-TV for several years as the Home Services expert; and had her own show on both the USA and Lifetime Cable networks. Katz wrote extensively for The New York Times as well, and contributed periodically to the New York Daily News. She is a passionate shopper, always looking for not merely a good buy, but the best buy, ferreting out a "steal" or discovering up-and-coming designers. She has written five books and is a former contributing editor to Hearst's Redbook, Classic Home, and Colonial Homes; she is currently a Contributing Editor of New York Home, Golf Connoisseur, The Modern Estate, and Promenade magazines. She is also the former Shopping Director for Davler Media's Manhattan Living.


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