Sixteen themed Christmas trees were given away alongside 25 gift baskets during Women with Willpower’s 7th annual O’ Christmas Tree Raffle and Festival at London Bridge Resort Convention Center Sunday in Lake Havasu City.
“We’re having the Christmas Tree Festival where we raise money for women in the community that have an unexpected financial need that cannot be met elsewhere,” said Women with Willpower president Connie Alexander.
Alexander said the group’s help is a hand up, not a hand out and recipients can only visit the well one time. Women with Willpower have been known to pay the rent or utilities, cover grocery needs, car repairs, certifications for job advancement, or provide means for a family member to travel the distance between Havasu and a metropolitan area to provide companionship for a woman undergoing medical testing or treatment.
“We’re here to get them past that one thing that is weird,” Alexander said. “It’s a sisterhood. It’s women helping women.”
There are 125 donors associated with Women with Willpower. This year, $20,000 has been provided to at least 16 recipients.
Sarah Pennington, local real estate agent and co-owner of Pennington’s Pub, has been a donor and working with the nonprofit for three years. Four months ago, she became a Signature sponsor. The title commits her for one year to contribute a percentage of her real estate commissions to helping other women.
“I do it because it stays local,” Pennington said. “One hundred percent of everything goes back into the community. There is no overhead and everyone is a volunteer.”
Fifteen decorating divas were credited for this year’s event theme of Old Fashion Christmas. Women with Willpower décor diva committee head Shela Barker said the group had worked weekly in her garage since September to handcraft the décor. The centerpieces were sold, benefitting the group’s cause.
“The idea started in February,” Barker said, four-year Women with Willpower donor. “We worked September, October and November in my garage, we made everything except the paintings.”
In short, it took two days of toil to coax the London Bridge Resort’s Convention Center into an elegant Christmas jubilee. Barker anticipated another day would be consumed taking it all down once again following the celebration.
“I like the fact that the organization takes care of women in Havasu, and that we’re not controlled by any city, county or government agency,” Barker said. “We are all donors, not members. We make a $50 yearly donation. Everybody is a volunteer, nobody is paid.”
Guest speaker Lisa DeFelice, who was a recipient in 2009, shared her story of hardship centering on divorce, breast cancer diagnosis, and looming debt. Women with Willpower stepped in to pay her mortgage one month, and paid a credit of $350 on her phone bill to help her along as she faced her challenges.
Organizers reported the event sold out again this year to 330 ticketholders.
The themed trees were designed by local resident and businesses and included the following:
“Dear Family Night Tree – Drop Everything and Read” – by Interagency
“LBR Bucks” – by London Bridge Resort
“Reach for the Starts” – by Jake and Ginny Clausen
“The Living Tree” – by FitLove Market, Nicole Witmer and Jennifer Bucolo
“Pennington’s Puppy Society” – by Jared Pennington
“Artsy Christmas” – by Christine’s Fine Art Gallery
“It’s All About the Girls” – by The Girls: Rhonda Miller, Mary Fowle, Lisa Nowlin, Cindy Sergott, Paula Baldwin, Jackie Campbell, Kim Proulx, Cindy Summers, Joyce Day, Sharon Earl, and Jean Knight.
“Relaxin’ & Chillin’” – by Body Essentials holistic Spa; Julie Martin, Elizabeth Urrea, Christine Hodge, and Donna Nelson.
“A Cardinal’s Experience” – by Ashleigh Beardsall
“Strength & Inspiration – A Tribute to Betty Henninger” – by Adspay
“A Woman with a Gun is More Fun” – by Sam’s Shooters Emporium & Ellie Scarmardo
“Mischievous Elf” – by Skinner Farms
“Bitchin’ Kitchen” – by Walmart, Zettel Group, Inc. & Origami Owl Designer Kelli Wallin
“Christmas Makeover Madness” – by Kimberly Michael Salon, Kim Finch, and the salon team.
“The Tree” – by Dallas & Kim Finch
“Black & White Chanel” – by The Pink Closet, Tasha Kincaid Smith
For more information about Women with Willpower, visit www.womenwithwillpower.org on the web.