It was a rainy morning in Gettysburg last Saturday, December 3. However, despite the weather, at 8:00 a.m., a long line had formed in front of the Gettysburg Fire Department. When doors unlocked at 9:00 a.m., customers filed into the building, entering the community room. The much-anticipated event was the Gettysburg Garden Club’s 62nd Annual Christmas Greens & Gourmet Gifts Sale, from 9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. Proceeds support flower gardens planted by club members at historic Lincoln Square and scholarships for Adams County students majoring in horticultural-related fields.
A project of this magnitude involves a significant volume of work that is nothing short of a labor of love. Planning committee members recruit volunteers, hold workshops, and stay on a tight schedule. Gone are the days of white gloves. Instead, sturdy garden gloves that protect hands from punctures and scratches and garden shears are essentials throughout the week.
Left to right: Pat Thorsen, Christmas Greens Committee Member; Joan Horak, Christmas Greens Committee Chair; Maryan Daniels, President; and Karen Szoke, Christmas Greens Committee Member.
Fresh-cut greens are from trees in members’ yards or their farms. Also, volunteers extend beyond members. “The club receives greens from community supporters who value what we do,” says Pat Thorsen, a planning committee member. “Husbands are also great supporters,” she adds.
Members designed and decorated over 100 handcrafted items Monday through Friday. Among their creations were holiday wreaths, swags, magnolia arrangements, decorative apples, candle arrangements, small arrangements in mugs, and tabletop boxwood trees. Also, as in previous years, gourmet treats for humans, dogs, and cats were popular. “About 65-70% of products are gone within 90 minutes of the sale,” shares Maryan Daniels,” club president. That explains why getting an early start and standing in line is essential, barring a snowstorm.
Like any other 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization, the Gettysburg Garden Club depends on donors to support its ongoing projects. The Gettysburg Garden Club was one of the twenty-two nonprofits that raised more than $25,000 during the Adams County Community Foundation’s (ACCF) Giving Spree last month. During this year’s Giving Spree, the club also met a donor’s $5,000 match challenge to support the endowment fund at the ACCF to keep Gettysburg beautiful for generations.
The Gettysburg Garden Club embraces partnerships. Current partners include Musselman Greenhouses, the Borough of Gettysburg, area businesses, and private citizens. In addition, the publicity chair promotes events through media and organizational partners. The Gettysburg Times, Gettysburg Connection, Celebrate Gettysburg, Destination Gettysburg, the Borough Manager’s Office, and Mainstreet Gettysburg got the word out about the Greens sale.
Past president Karen Szoke attributes the club’s fundraising successes to its contributions to enhanced quality of life. “Garden Clubs offer tremendous benefits to small towns, like Gettysburg, and other communities. When we plant flowers and trees in public spaces, we are, in essence, taking better care of our community,” she adds. “Anytime Gettysburg Green Gathering, an organization that fosters environmental stewardship, has a tree planting event, we help them,” she concludes. No matter the locale, garden clubs have commonalities: a love for gardening, floral design, and civic and environmental responsibility.
Gettysburg is a significant tourist destination. The Gettysburg Garden Club’s downtown beautification projects contribute to a rich legacy that attracts tourists from all corners of our country and the world. The Gettysburg Garden Club is affiliated with the Garden Club Federation of Pennsylvania, Central Atlantic Regions of State Garden Clubs, Inc., and National Garden Clubs, Inc.
As a 1st year member of the Gettysburg Garden Club, I was extremely impressed at the organization, dedication and the amount of time donated to this this fundraiser. I applaud all the people (especially our officers) who worked so tirelessly to make this event such a success!
My hat is off to the Gettysburg Garden Club who also decorate the downtown and square year after year.