‘Tree of Memories’ at Christmas Store once again this year

The local Alzheimer Society is giving district residents a chance to show they remember someone important in their life this holiday season—all the while contributing to the fight against the disease—with its “Tree of Memories.”
For a second year, the Christmas Store on McIrvine Road is the site for the tree, which for a fourth year is decorated with handmade stocking ornaments people can buy to help support the Alzheimer Society.
(The tree was at Tammi’s Flowers and Gifts the first two years).
“We sometimes remember people at Christmas a little more than at other times of the year, and this is a way to show you’re thinking of them,” said Margaret Schonewille, executive director of the Alzheimer Society of Kenora-Rainy River District.
“It doesn’t have to be for someone with Alzheimer’s,” she added. “It could be someone they want to remember. It could be for someone who can’t come home for Christmas, or someone who’s passed away.
“It could be for a student away from home, a family member, or even a neighbour who helps you out a lot.”
Each stocking costs $5.
When you buy one and take it home, another stocking—with the person’s name you want remembered written on it—replaces it on the tree at the Christmas Store.
Local resident Sherin Hagen, who sits on the board of directors for the Alzheimer Society, once again made the stockings along with her daughter, Melissa.
The mother-daughter team has made dozens of stockings for this year’s “Tree of Memories,” but will make more if they sell well enough. Each stocking is unique, and made with materials purchased by them and then donated to the Alzheimer Society.
“Hopefully, we’ll do it every year,” said Hagen.
“It isn’t just for people with Alzheimer’s or just for people who’ve passed on. It’s to remember someone at Christmas who can’t be home this year,” she stressed.
Hagen added making the stockings has had even more meaning this year for her.
“My mom had Alzheimer’s, and she just passed away about three weeks ago. This is just my way of helping out,” she remarked.
“We really appreciate all they’ve done to make the stockings,” said Schonewille.
Both Hagen and Schonewille thanked Donna Lowey, who runs the Christmas Store, for donating the space for the “Tree of Memories” and setting it up.
The “Tree of Memories” usually raises a couple of hundred dollars each year. But Schonewille noted it’s something she’d like to see keep going—given it does raise awareness of Alzheimer’s and allows people to actually get a little Christmas gift in return for their donation.
Hagen noted next year she and her daughter hope to make enough stockings to also set up “Trees of Memories” in Dryden, where Melissa lives, and Kenora.
The Christmas Store’s hours are Monday-Thursday from 10 a.m. -7 p.m., 10 a.m.-8 p.m. on Fridays, and 10 a.m.-7 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays until Dec. 24.
In related news, tickets are starting to sell for the “Chef’s Charitable Dinner and Auction” slated for Sunday, Jan. 22 at 5 p.m. at the Adventure Inn here.
“I’ve sold a few here, but Christmas is still coming and I think people are real busy with that,” conceded Schonewille. “I think the first of January, we’ll get a big rush with the dinner tickets.”
Tickets, which cost $50 each, are available at the Adventure Inn, Emo Inn, La Flambée, and Lee Garden, or by calling the Alzheimer Society at 1-807-468-1516 or 1-800-682-0245.
These can be paid for with cash, cheques, VISA, or Mastercard—and make great Christmas presents, said Schonewille.
As well, the Rainy River Legion will be holding its annual roast beef fundraiser dinner for the Alzheimer Society on Saturday, Jan. 21. The cost is $10 per person.
There also will be a penny auction and a “Chairs for Charity” raffle.
Last year’s roast beef fundraiser dinner saw more than 100 people turn out, raising about $800.
Schonewille said she’ll also be holding the annual “Penny for Your Thoughts” weigh-in on Jan. 21 in Fort Frances, but a location still has to be confirmed.