Glen Innes Red Cross holds Christmas tree display in Town Hall

Visiting the Glen Innes Town Hall is like wandering through a forest. The Australian Red Cross branch's annual Christmas tree exhibition has opened.

There are 50 trees, from bonsai-sized ones to the Super Strawberry's luxuriant Yuletide scene, with its tartanned reindeer and sprites. There are towering snowmen and angels, and puppet Nativities.

"There's no limit to the imagination," volunteer Margaret Lamph said.

Probably the most unusual trees are all about the drought, she feels. "The schools have come on board; the children are thinking of drought, and wondering when it's going to rain."

All I Want for Christmas is Rain says the book at the foot of Glen Innes Public School kindergarten's tree. Their older siblings in Class 2K at Glen Innes Public School have created a giving tree, 'donating clothes and goodies, to fill a family with glee'.

Perhaps the most touching tree (in both senses) is Wytaliba and Red Range Public School's tree of clasped hands.

"It is important this Christmas, just like any other, to cherish and spend time with our loved ones," a placard reads. "Presence is more important than a present."

The Wytaliba school was destroyed by fire earlier this month, and 13 of the children are attending Red Range. The state government announced last week that it would rebuild the school.

The Christmas tree exhibition opened on Thursday, a day earlier than the normal Friday, to be part of Christmas in the Highlands. Hundreds of people came to visit the display, Ms Lamph said.

"It brings the community. Everyone comes into a happier situation when they walk in here. Being out on their farms or even in the local town businesses is tough for them; it's tough for everyone. But when you come in here, they can sort of forget that, because the grandmas, the aunts and uncles come to look at children's trees."

The exhibition is the Glen Innes branch's major fundraiser. This year, organiser Jo Cameron said, the branch has given considerable funds to drought relief, and will put on Christmas parties for villages like Red Range, Deepwater, Welling Grove, and Ben Lomond.

To help raise funds, the Red Cross are running a raffle. The New England Motor Lodge, Jamesies Fuel & Fix, Timbs Pharmacy, Amcal Pharmacy - Graydon, and Mrs Rhonda Marr have all donated prizes. The raffle closes Raffle closes Saturday, December 6.

The public can also vote for their favourite tree.