MAYVILLE - Chautauqua County nonprofits will receive a special gift this year thanks to Chautauqua Suites' Holiday Giving Tree program.
More than 50 area nonprofits will benefit from the program, which raises money via votes cast by visitors who tour the uniquely decorated, 6-foot-tall artificial Christmas trees in Mayville.
According to Stephanie Jackson-Brown, sales and events manager, the event started with the idea of only decorating one tree. But, it snowballed thanks to CASA of Chautauqua County's Kathy Park, who inspired Jackson-Brown by suggesting that she call others to see if they'd like to participate. After receiving much interest in the program, Jackson-Brown decided it would be best to have every tree benefit a different charity.
Photo by Dusten Rader
Pictured are decorated, 6-foot-tall artificial trees in Chautauqua Suites’ lobby for the Holiday Giving Trees program that will benefit more than 50 area nonprofits.
Joe Town, Chautauqua Suites director of food and beverages, works on the life-size gingerbread house located in the ballroom of Chautauqua Suites in Mayville.
"CASA was really my jumping point into all of the charities," said Jackson-Brown. "They're all good causes, and I couldn't pick just one. So, there are trees everywhere you look now, and we have a waiting list to add even more."
One of Jackson-Brown's favorites is the Northern Chautauqua Canine Rescue of Westfield tree decorated by Mayville Hardware, which is located in the lobby. The tree features pictures of all the dogs who are up for adoption and a carved wood dog at its base.
"It's so clever," said Jackson-Brown. "It's decorated with doggy bones, leashes and she also incorporated her business by topping the tree with a star made of piping. It's such a well-thought-out tree, and it's my personal favorite."
Another of Jackson-Brown's favorites was done by the Roger Tory Peterson Institute and is covered with bird decorations. And, a tree was decorated by Megan D'Angelo, of Hospice Chautauqua County, to benefit the Chautauqua County Child Advocacy Program.
"Hospice likes to do a lot of community events and to get involved with charities or nonprofits to organize our efforts together," said D'Angelo. "We partnered with Chautauqua Suites in April for the Second Chance Prom, and their hospitality was excellent. So, I thought this would be a great opportunity to work with them again. The Chautauqua County Child Advocacy Program is a great program in our community, and we couldn't be happier with it. While decorating the tree I kept in mind that we have angels, hearts and the representation of doves and the symbols of peace. So, we just wanted to have something that was a symbol of hope and peace, and that reflected the dignity and care we give to (Hospice's) patients."
There is a tree covered by decorations made with recycled paper which will benefit the VFW Home for Children, a Hospice tree that has ribbons for every kind of cancer and a tree with edible decorations for Hurlbut Church. There are also trees for The Robert H. Jackson Center, Toys For Tots, the Blind Association, the Boys and Girls Club, the Agents of Hope golf tournament for the ALS Association, the Chautauqua Lake Childcare Center, the Resource Center, the Chautauqua Lake Association, the Salvation Army, the Lawson Boat Museum, Chautauqua County Humane Society, Meals On Wheels, Living Beyond Breast Cancer by Chautauqua County Ladies Auxiliary, Creche by Francesa's Floral, the Relief Zone and others.
Voting ballots are available at the front desk for $1 or 15 for $10. Those who buy 10 or more ballots are entered into a prize drawing that will be held on Friday, Dec. 28.
"Each vote means a donation to one of the charities," said Jackson-Brown. "And, we want to raise awareness for the organizations in Chautauqua County. The sponsor of the tree with the most ballots in its box gets a $100 gift certificate to Olive's Restaurant. But, even if a tree doesn't win the vote, everybody wins anyway because the charities receive all the donations. This is what Christmas is all about - giving."
In addition to the artificial trees, Patty Centi, Chautauqua Suites general manager, decorated two real trees that were donated by her landscaper Greg Auge.
"Every tree is different and beautiful in its own right," said Centi. "Every group put so much work into what they did; it's magnificent."
The two real trees are located in the ballroom where visitors can also view the life-size gingerbread house made with real candy, frosting and brick-like chunks of gingerbread.
Viewing hours are from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Brunch is available at Olive's Restaurant in Chautauqua Suites on Sundays from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Chautauqua Suites is located at 215 W. Lake Road in Mayville. For more information call 269-7829 or visit chautauqua suites.com.