COUNTRY CHRISTMAS - Crystal Zens shows off the winning entry in this year’s Festival of Wreaths from Reflections Day Spa.

COUNTRY CHRISTMAS - Crystal Zens shows off the winning entry in this year’s Festival of Wreaths from Reflections Day Spa.

Third annual Festival of Wreaths better than ever

Local fundraiser supports many programs at Big Brothers Big Sisters

There are many who believe that this time of year should be about spreading joy and kinship with others.

Lacombe & District Big Brothers Big Sisters is one such organization that tries to do so throughout the year, but they need some help.

As such, Big Brothers Big Sisters is holding the third annual Festival of Wreaths fundraiser.

Crystal Zens, executive director of Lacombe & District Big Brothers Big Sisters, said the festival is a miniature version of the Festival of Trees, a fundraiser held by many larger Big Brothers Big Sisters groups, particularly in the United States.

“We kind of cloned it from a program in the States. The idea was that it would be a really cool way to collaborate with businesses.”

Zens explained how the fundraiser works. She said that Big Brothers Big Sisters provides wreaths which are then decorated by businesses that wish to support the program.

In decorating the wreaths, businesses also incorporate swag, promotional items, samples, gift cards and other goodies into the package. Zens said there is a minimum of $150 worth of such items with each wreath, but some of the wreaths are worth as much as $700.

“It’s like a gift basket on a wreath.” She added that the wreaths are then sold off via silent auction, with the funds going to support Big Brothers Big Sisters.

There are many perks that benefit various partners in the program. Zens said the City of Lacombe gets to use the wreaths to decorate the Lacombe Memorial Centre and Big Brothers Big Sisters gets a venue to display the wreaths and assistance in setting them up. Without this, Zens added, the organization would not be able to host the fundraiser.

Zens also said that she has heard from participating businesses that decorating the wreaths makes for a good teambuilding and staff-bonding exercise within the business.

As with most of the fundraisers in the community, the Festival of Wreaths is very successful. Zens said the wreaths are very popular and most are purchased as gifts for friends and family.

Each year, the quality of the wreaths improves as well.

Zens said that the businesses who support the program have really bought into the idea of decorating the wreaths and find it a good way to get exposure and help out the community.

“The businesses have really, every year, raised the bar. The wreaths are getting better and better.”

There is even a bit of competition between the businesses to see who can make the best wreath. Zens said there are prizes for the first and second best decorated wreaths each year.

This year, there are 27 wreaths in the festival. That is down from last year’s 31, but still above the 18 wreaths the first year the festival was held.

Usually, Big Brothers Big Sisters has the opportunity to auction a few of the wreaths as well.

Zens said that this opportunity is not available this year so they are anticipating money raised to be slightly lower than previous years, but the organization still hopes to reach a goal of $4,000 with the fundraiser.

Festival of Wreaths is an important fundraiser for Big Brothers Big Sisters, said Zen. Without it, there would be quite a dry spell for fundraising and lack of revenue for several months, she added.

“It’s a great way to end our year and inject some revenue into our children’s programs.”

Zens added that the fundraiser enables Big Brothers Big Sisters to host a big Christmas turkey dinner for all of its families as well as fund other programs.

Bids for the wreaths can be made online or in person at the LMC.

Zens said online bidders have the advantage of being able to sign up for a service that automatically processes billing information and sends the bidder notifications immediately when they have been outbid.

Should bidders choose to go the old-fashioned route and make silent bids in person at the LMC, those bids will be manually updated to the online system as anonymous bids. When those bidders are outbid, they will not receive notifications and will have to check their bids themselves to keep track.

To bid on a wreath in the Festival of Wreaths, visit or visit the LMC in person. Bidding closes Dec. 17.

Festival of Wreaths is not the only event Big Brothers Big Sisters has going on this time of year.

Tomorrow, Dec. 13 they will hold their annual Charity Checkstop event outside the police station.

Santa will be present handing out candy canes as the stop collects spare change for both Big Brothers Big Sisters and the Lacombe Food Bank. For more information, call 403-782-7870.