Auxiliary volunteers have been busy for months creating beautiful wreaths, centerpieces, and other holiday décor that will be available for sale at the Fantasy of Trees event. L to R: Sandy Pope, Darlene Kuklinksi, Mary Heise and Claudia Lambert.
Although it might seem we are still putting away Halloween decorations, Winona Health is already thinking about Christmas. This week, it is opening its doors to the community and spreading an early message of Christmas cheer. On Wednesday, the much-anticipated four-day Holiday Happiness shopping extravaganza begins. Then, on November 12, more than 50 elaborately and beautifully decorated holiday trees will turn the Winona Health Clinic lobby into a winter wonderland escape. This year, because Fantasy of Trees has grown so large, it has been moved from the Great Hall at Watkins Manor to Winona Clinic. For more than 10 years the events, hosted by the Winona Health Auxiliary, have brought area businesses, service clubs, organizations, and individuals together to join in the Christmas spirit.
‘Tis the season to be jolly with Winona Health as they take part in spreading Holiday Happiness. On Wednesday, Christmas comes early when the hospital’s B.A. Miller Auditorium on the third floor of the hospital turns into Santa’s gift shop.
Event co-chairs and Auxiliary gift shop volunteers Diane Barge, Jan Wanek, Mary Brenno and Carole Matejka have been hard at work getting ready for the annual fundraiser. From November 7-10, Holiday Happiness provides shoppers with exquisite art from local vendors, delectable gourmet foods and bakery treats, and, of course, holiday gifts and decorations. Special items this year are cupcake accessories, holiday-themed shirts and jackets, and lots of gourmet food mixes.
Visitors will also find a tea table featuring punch, coffee, and homemade cookies and bars to help them get needed sustenance during their shopping experience.
“Holiday Happiness is a fun way to get holiday shopping done early while supporting local health care,” event volunteer Lori Ortega said.
Holiday Happiness hours are Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Thursday and Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Fantasy of Trees new location
It’s a yearly tradition for millions of families across the United States. It’s often an iconic scene in holiday movies. It’s a time for loved ones to get together and welcome the spirit of the season. Decorating a Christmas tree is serious business for those who donate a tree to the Winona Health Auxiliary’s Fantasy of Trees fundraiser.
Ortega said holding the event on the Winona Health campus this year offers more space for trees and decorations, more visibility for the event, easier community access and better parking.
“Hospital employees and patients and their families will be able to experience firsthand this Auxiliary event that supports and helps Winona Health,” Ortega said. “The large windows in the clinic lobby will also allow beautiful lights to shine through to those who pass by on the highway. Because of the move to the larger location, the decorated trees will be on display for an entire week for the community to enjoy.”
For the last several months, event chairs Ruth Dalleska and Dureen Heim have been busy organizing, coordinating, and decorating to get the space ready for the event. With the help of more than 400 volunteers, this year’s Fantasy of Trees event is expected to be the best yet.
On Monday, November 12, the Winona Health clinic lobby will transform into a spectacular Christmas display, and the Auxiliary will begin the process of sealed bids, which will continue until Sunday afternoon. All trees will be on display for viewing and bidding the entire week.
Throughout the week, holiday wreaths, centerpieces, and decorations crafted by volunteers will be for sale. See’s Candy will also be offered for sale. On Friday, and throughout the weekend, event goers can indulge in refreshments, enjoy classic Christmas music performed by live musicians, and visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus.
“The Fantasy of Trees is just one of several wonderful, successful fundraisers that involve volunteerism and community fellowship and caring through the Auxiliary,” Ortega said. “What better way to see friends and neighbors, bid on beautiful trees, purchase holiday décor, and listen to beautiful music? It’s an excellent way to support Winona Health facilities, which benefit the community.”
There is still time to donate a decorated tree to the event by calling the Volunteer Services Office at 474-3328. Donated trees must be between 12 and 48 inches tall, lighted or not. Themed or uniquely designed trees are preferred and highly recommended.
Fantasy of Trees main bidding hours are Monday, November 12, through Thursday, November 15, from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.
On Friday, November 16, bidding is open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., and live music and the craft sale starts at 3 p.m.
On Saturday, November 17, bidding and the craft sale are open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Santa and Mrs. Claus will be stopping by from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Auxiliary staff encourages you to bring your camera.
On Sunday, bidding and the craft sale are open from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m.
The bidding closes on Sunday afternoon and trees go the highest bidder.
All proceeds from both events go toward enhancing the healing environment for patients and their families at Winona Health, and help provide funding for scholarships awarded to students pursuing a career in health care.
For more information about Holiday Happiness or Fantasy of Trees, visit the Winona Health website. www.winonahealth.org