READING – What started as a craft idea grew into something that brings joy to shut-ins around the area.
Angie Berry of Reading created some hand-made gnomes and entered her story in a decorating contest, not knowing they would actually have magical powers on residents in several assisted living facilities.
She made six gnomes out of tomato cages, greens from scrub trees on her property and 8 yards of material (for hats) and balls of yarn (for noses).
Berry said the idea has been a fantastic way to spread holiday cheer to shut-ins. She likes coming up with new ideas to craft – and not only during the holidays.
“My husband is so patient and understanding … he will walk into the house and my crafts will be spread all over the kitchen, living room and dining room, and he will just smile at me and say ‘what are you making now?'”
Berry said she doesn’t purposely plan a new craft each holiday – “it just kind of happens.
“In March, when we were locked at home, I walked around the yard and picked up bags full of pinecones, laid them out on the trailer in the barn all summer to dry, and had pinecones galore for holiday crafts,” Berry said. “I did end up using them in many decorations, donated a couple of pails full to Crossroads Farm in Reading for their decorations, gave some to an assisted living facility for their crafts and used some at home.”
Other things created this year include grapevine wreaths that she ended up giving all but two away. She has also made about 15 quilted Christmas tree skirts this year – those also have been all given away but two.
“The gnome idea was inspired when an acquaintance mentioned ‘they have really cute gnomes made out of tomato cages at this nursery…’ and poof – that’s all it takes – the idea was born in my little brain,” Berry said.
She didn’t know there was a WCSR contest until much later, after the gnomes had been made and been delivered to others.
“When I saw the contest, I just thought ‘hey, this is a different twist to a holiday decoration. Why not enter? The more that hear about it, the more the merrier,’” Berry said. “It’s a way to spread the smiles.”
After she and her husband came up with a story that had them raid the refrigerator, and play outside, then she came up with the idea to share the joy with others who weren’t able to experience it.
“Since I have a loved one in assisted living, I think about their situation and wanted to do something to spread a lot of holiday cheer,” Berry said. “Hence, the first two gnomes jumped in the car and began their excursions.”
Receiving gnomes at Drews Village Green, employee Jenna Stuck said residents have enjoyed seeing one gnome peering in at them while they ate in the dining room before being confined to their rooms.
Another gnome went to the Hillsdale County Medical Care Facility, where Life Enrichment Director Laurie Newell said the gnome toured the facility, and is currently seated out on the patio where he can be seen from the day room window.
“He’s a comical little creature and you just never know where he’ll show up,” Newell said. “I believe he’s caroling tomorrow!”
“The fourth gnome went to a friend and the fifth and sixth gnomes stayed home, because as my husband declared, they needed to keep each other company,” Berry said. “Although, they are traveling around the yard, to the amusement of our neighbors.”
For now, she has no plans for making more gnomes, but other ideas could come.
“I look forward to the excitement of each thing as it transpires ….I never know how or when an idea will strike,” she said.
But looking for ways to bring cheer to those who may be lonely during the holidays is at the forefront.
“My husband and I always try to help others when, how and if we can,” Berry said. “It may not always be a high monetary value, but it is for certain always given with a lot of love and heart.”
This year has been especially hard on everyone, she added.
“But my heart breaks for the shut ins who have no control over any of it,” she said. “They are just isolated, scared and so alone. It was an impulse crazy way to try to let them know they are not alone, we are thinking of them, we love them and they matter.
“God’s love is real and if we can make someone’s world a little brighter with that love, all the better,” Berry said. “It makes my heart giggle inside – brings out the kid in me.