Wreath decorations drive donations

Submitted photo Shown is the winning wreath, made by the Lakeshore Humane Society.

Over the past weekend, the fourth annual United Community Christmas event began, hosted by the United Way of Northern Chautauqua County.

This year, 17 local businesses competed in what has become a wreath decorating contest. The proceeds of the contest, which is determined by the entry fee and money raised through the auction of the wreaths, are split between the contest winner and United Way.

“Half of the prize pool is donated by the winner, and half goes to us,” said United Way Director Adam Dolce. “It’s a 50-50 split and people can take the wreaths home with them, which is always well received.”

The winner of the competition is determined by which wreath gets the most likes on the United Way’s Facebook page, but this year, there is a second winner. The business who has the highest auction on their wreath will receive those funds separately, which they can donate to a charity of their choice.

This year’s winner was the wreath from the Lakeshore Humane Society, which was a first-time entry into the contest. While Dolce acknowledges that the United Way and Lakeshore Humane Society aren’t a typical pairing, it has been for both of them to be involved.

“They’re not a typical United Way partner but it’s a great way for them to get involved and raise awareness to their own cause,” Dolce said. “We’ve been able to work on something jointly that’s been a lot of fun.”

In total, Dolce said almost $2,500 will be split between the United Way and Lakeshore Humane Society, who will donate to a charity of their choice. The Humane Society is one of several new competitors from this year’s contest, as the field nearly doubled according to Dolce.

The contest provides the businesses with a good chance to team build and help out during the holiday season.

“It gives them an opportunity for team building and exposure and a lot of them get involved to make a difference around the holiday,” Dolce said. “It’s good for us as United Way to demonstrate the strength of community this time of year. We’re always so impressed with the businesses that come in, and we had exceptional wreaths this year.”

While this is the fourth year of the contest as a whole, it is only the second year they’ve done it with wreaths. When the contest started, they originally used Christmas trees that were donated from a family with excess trees, then the trees would get donated to families in need of them, but they used up all their trees after the second year.

“The first couple years, all the stuff on the trees for a few businesses would be taken off and the trees would be given away,” Dolce said. “But we depleted our tree stock after the second year, so we switched to wreaths.”

With the holiday season in full force, the United Way looks to give back more than normal, and their yearly Christmas contest is just another example of that.

The Lakeshore Humane Society’s wreath won the contest with 176 likes on Facebook. Included with the wreath, the winning bidder received $50 to 9 Lives Holistic, $50 to Kwik Fill, $25 to PetMmart, $15 to Dunkin Donuts, and $15 to Patty’s Pet Grooming.

To view all the wreaths in the contest, visit https://www.facebook.com/uwncc


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