ST. MARYS - Due to popular demand from area residents, Elk Regional Health System’s “Keepsake Program” is offering angel Christmas tree ornaments for purchase by area residents.
Through the program, several ornaments at different price points are offered for purchase in memory of a loved one. The ornaments are displayed on trees in the lobbies of Elk Regional Health Center (ERHC) and Pinecrest Manor and may be taken home afterward.
Jennifer Bauer, projects director for the Elk Regional Health System Auxiliary, said the program features a special cloisonné ornament each year. This year’s featured ornament will be an angel. Price points for the ornaments are $5 for smaller crystal angels, $10 for ceramic angel bells with gowns of varying colors, and $20 for the larger cloisonné angel. "We've tried to select a variety, with something for everyone. We're focusing on angels because of demand," Bauer said.
After ornaments are purchased, they are hung on the trees at ERHC and Pinecrest Manor. People may choose at which facility they would like their ornaments displayed. Following the holiday season, the ornaments may be picked up and taken home. Bauer said each ornament is displayed with the loved one’s name handwritten in calligraphy.
"Janice Simons volunteers her time to do all of the calligraphy," Bauer said. "I think it's really important to have that handmade touch on it." Bauer, a former retail specialty gift buyer, joined the Auxiliary in 2006. She said while the Auxiliary had been doing some sort of remembrance program for 30 years, they used doily-style snowflake ornaments that they put up each year and kept on-site. Bauer said at that point, the ornaments were showing a lot of wear and the Auxiliary was looking to replace them. She hit on the idea of a keepsake ornament. "I thought, 'Why not expand it and give people something they can take home and collect?'" Bauer said.
Bauer used her background and contacts in retail to find an appropriate item at a reasonable price. The first ornament offered through the Keepsake Program in 2006 was a small glass ball.
“That was really successful, so the following year we decided to start expanding and offering differing price points,” Bauer said, adding that
well over 600 ornaments were purchased last year. "We always want to have something really nice, even at a lower price point, because it's all about remembering someone," she said. She said the cloisonné ornaments have been very popular because of their beauty and distinct look.
"It's a very old art form," Bauer said.
She explained that cloisonné objects are handmade using a brass base and affixing wire to make a design. Then, little chips of glass beads are laid inside the wire and the ornament is baked to melt the chips and create a glossy finish.
Bauer said the fact that the ornaments are handmade makes them particularly desirable to many people.