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10th Annual Holiday House of Hope a success

January 8, 2020
By PAULETTE LeBLANC ( , Pine Island Eagle

According to Beacon of Hope board member Elsie Stearns, last month's 10th annual Holiday House of Hope was likely one of the most special events yet. She attributes this to the vintage 1926 theme, which was the year the historic Tarpon Lodge was built on the island.

"Having some of the people dress up in the vintage clothing was really fun and festive," said Stearns. "I think a lot of people enjoyed that aspect of it, rather than just showing up in Christmas clothes."

The Beacon has always had a theme for the Holiday House of Hope. Stearns recalls that one year the theme was Candyland, with a special train and even a Candyland house. Farmhouse 44, who was one of the sponsors of last month's event, has asked if they can help with the decorating next year. One of the nights of Holiday House's three-night event coincided with the Matlacha Christmas Tree lighting, which was also a great success, though, Stearns said she feels perhaps they can coordinate dates for next December, to be sure both events are well attended.

"You never know because of the bowl games if Saturday will be busy," said Stearns. "Friday has generally been a busy night, but this year they did the tree lighting on Friday so our attendance was a little bit down. But where we were down in attendance, we certainly made up for it in the vendor's raffle table."

All the vendors donated some product, craftsmanship or artistry to be raffled off to a winning guest, which proved to be a great success. Overall the Beacon was able to raise enough money to get through another summer. With so many people needing help from the Beacon, Stearns said it's often more difficult than people realize to keep everything running smoothly until the following season.

"We have to be prepared for a rainy day," said Stearns, quite literally. "If the roof begins to leak in our building, we have to fix it. The holiday House is a good way to lead into season for us, because by the time September and October roll around we are nickel to dime trying to get to where season will start, so the Holiday House income is a good kick-off for us.

Stearns explained that the Holiday House of Hope acts much like a financial bridge for the organization to get it through to the more thriving months, since no one ever knows what June through November will bring by way of storms. She explained that a higher goal was set this year for the event in the hopes that some of the budget would be covered. Making the vendors aware of the goal was also important as it inspired everyone to reach farther for the good of the work the Beacon does on the islands. Stearns admits that some of the work from December's Holiday House is still not complete, as, though it is enjoyable, it is also a time-consuming, and laborious undertaking.

Stearns expressed her gratitude for everyone who gives so generously, such as author John Mills, who donated 100% of the sales of his books from the event back to the Beacon, and, of course, the Wells family, who graciously opened the doors of the Tarpon Lodge to host the annual Holiday House of Hope for the ninth year in a row.

"Holiday House of Hope has become a beloved tradition here in Pine Island, and helps the Beacon to support people from the cradle into the twilight years," said Stearns in an earlier interview.



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