Plans coming together for ‘Spirit of Christmas’

Duane Hicks

The true spirt of Christmas is not in the gift but in the giving.
As such, the La Verendrye General Hospital Auxiliary is hoping the public is feeling very generous for a good cause when the auxiliary hosts its “Spirit of Christmas” fundraiser on Sunday, Dec. 2 at 2 p.m. in the Copper River Inn ballroom.
Convener Janet Lambert, who has been working on the event since June, told the Times that guests can expect a “Winter Wonderland” of arts and crafts, holiday decorations, and unique gift ideas when they come out next Sunday.
“It’s amazing. It’s humbling,” Lambert said of the response from local crafters and artists.
“My house is full right now–the dining room is full, the living room is full,” she noted.
“I am moving my stuff into the basement in order to make rooms for all of the baskets.”
The event will feature silent auction tables, with items ranging from $10-$20 in value to $200 and above.
Silent auction items range from original paintings and gift baskets to leather mitts with fur inside, sweater mittens, and knitted toques to a beaded ornament cover and a log carved with a chainsaw into a painted Christmas tree.
There also will be a door prize, penny table, and a gently-used items table.
“Some of this stuff is just amazing, just like brand new,” Lambert said of the gently-used items.
To donate items, contact Lambert (274-2713) or Linda Hamilton (274-8782).
Admission to “Spirit of Christmas” is $5. That will get you complimentary dainties, coffee, and tea, as well as access to the all-new hot chocolate bar sponsored by Tim Hortons.
There also will be a cash bar for those who want to “hot toddy” up their drink, Lambert chuckled.
Lambert urged everyone to come out to “Spirit of Christmas” and get their holiday shopping done while supporting local health care at the same time.
She added that while the event does coincide with the local Santa Claus parade, which starts at 3 p.m. that same day, there’s plenty of time to also get to “Spirit of Christmas.”
“If people want to, [they can] come after the parade, pick up a hot chocolate for the little ones, and look around and see what’s there,” said Lambert, noting organizers have left the ending time for the fundraiser “wide open” to accommodate those who want to go to both the parade and “Spirit of Christmas.”
Lambert also gave kudos to Susan Cousineau, who first started “Spirit of Christmas” here in 1994.
Over the years, it grew from a social gathering in Cousineau’s home to raise funds to fight cancer to a much larger fundraiser which, at its height of popularity, drew more than 300 guests and raised over $18,000.
Eventually, the proceeds were split between the Canadian Cancer Society and Fort Frances Community Chest.
Cousineau even devised a guided for the Canadian Cancer Society, which included ideas on how to hold a successful “Spirit of Christmas” event (which still is used today).
Over the years, local organizations that have run the event have included the Community Chest, the Rainy River District Breast Health Network, and now the La Verendrye General Hospital Auxiliary.
The auxiliary held its first “Spirit of Christmas” in 2016 and raised roughly $6,000 to go towards new items for the hospital.
It plans to hold “Spirit of Christmas” every second year.