A month or so ago my friend Heather mentioned she was looking to decorate a Christmas tree at a shelter and was looking for donations for ornaments. I happened to have a giant stash of vintage ornaments that could use some thinning out, so offered up a bunch of pink ones and asked if I could help in any way. The next thing I knew, we had a group of 4 of us, who wanted to help Heather put together this tree for a brand new women’s and children’s shelter in Frederick, MD, The Faith House.
Photo above by Heather; this post contains a mix of her photos and mine.
Before I continue, I want to take a moment to extend a huge thank you to Tree Classics as well as Christmas Tree Shops who sponsored this project. Tree Classics provided the shelter with a 7.5′ tree as well as red wooden beads and a star tree topper. Christmas Tree Shops provided us with a generous budget which allowed us to shop for ornaments and decor, and have plenty left to provide the shelter with some coloring books, crayons, books, play-doh, hats, mittens and other goodies. We had fun shopping at their Hagerstown location (which is where I also found some awesome $3.99 disco balls, I might add!).
Now, back to the actual decorating… I am going to take a moment to admit that I was in a big funk the week we planned to meet at The Faith House. Friday was on the calendar as the day to put up the tree, and it was so exciting because Saturday was their “grand opening.” However, here in Maryland that week was gray and wet, and my spirits were down. I was feeling a little overwhelmed by the expenses of the holidays, chimney repair we need, and also feeling like I wasn’t living up to my potential… I was frustrated and discontented. Friday morning rolled around, and I threw on a comfortable outfit and a hat, and headed downtown.
We were greeted by Kathy Schey, who has been spearheading this project; she was so grateful to have us there, bringing some holiday cheer to greet the new residents. She gave us a full tour of the building, an old victorian home converted into a beautiful shelter. It was vacant at the time as all the preparations were wrapping up and the governor would be coming the next day to attend the grand opening. Kathy told us about the function of each space, and it was clearly well thought out, with a communal dining room where the women would be responsible for cooking for one another and connecting over a large table; she told us about the work and school expectations the inhabitants would have to meet. The Faith House is a second chance for so many women and will provide them the means to get on their feet and become responsible and contributing community members. This project has been under way for a while, and it was incredible to see the final product coming to fruition. The joy in Kathy’s face as well as those of the other volunteers was beautifully contagious.
After our tour, we got to work putting up the tree.
We had so much fun decorating this tree. Because Heather had the red beads, and I was donating pink ornaments, and this was a shelter for women and children, we chose a pink, red, and aqua color palette. We wanted this tree to exude cheer.As you can see, we added candy canes for a festive and tasty touch, and aqua sheer ribbon from Christmas Tree Shops for a bit more color.Underneath the tree we placed a snowman hat basket filled with safe plush “snowballs.A santa sack was filled with loads of goodies from Christmas Tree Shops.
We sprinkled some cheer around the common living area as well, such as this little coffee table vignette.
While we were busy inside, there were elves from Surreybrooke in Middletown stringing magnolia and greenery garlands, and filling gorgeous urns. The spirit of community was abuzz around this house the entire morning!While we were busy creating a festive and joyful space for the incoming residents, something truly magical happened…. I felt much happier than I had all week long. My spirits were lifted, my heart as full, and I was so grateful for every good thing that I had in my own life. I’ve heard many times that in order to make yourself happy, go make someone else happy… and it’s so true. Bringing joy to Kathy, and knowing that those residents were going to walk in and be greeted by such a cheerful and welcoming space was the best feeling I’d had that week.
I am so grateful to Heather for organizing this event; to Emy, Jessica, and Sarah for joining in and making it all the more fun; and to Kathy and all of her volunteers for the beautiful work they do day in and day out. And in the end I am reminded that the gift is always in the giving. I wish the women and children of The Faith House the brightest of futures, and am so happy I got to play a tiny roll in their new start.