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Women’s Club fosters Christmas fundraiser collaboration

December 19, 2018
By JESSE MEADOWS ( , Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

Holiday spirit is high amongst non-profit organizations on the island, and the Women's Club wants to keep them all working together.

Last weekend, the Friends of the Mound House put on their first annual Christmas Market, organized in conjunction with the Women's Club's Christmas Tree Festival.

"The Women's Club mandate is to create environments for non-profits to raise money," said club president Beverly Milligan.

Article Photos

Jan and Michael Forbes inspect a tree up for auction at the Christmas Tree Festival.


So, when the Friends of the Mound House chose the same date as the Women's Club's Christmas Tree Festival, the organizations collaborated instead of competing.

"We decided to jointly promote each other in the spirit of supporting non-profits across the island," Milligan said.

"The other thing we triggered as a result of that: we needed a community calendar where non-profits can go to schedule their events so they don't compete. Now on our website you can see all the events non-profits are doing for the rest of the season and the year."

The Christmas Tree Festival featured 16 trees, each decorated by a different non-profit.

The three-day event was full of activities, like a performance by the Cypress Lake High School Orchestra, a chili tasting featuring 14 homemade chilis from island residents and businesses, and a book giveaway from Santa Claus himself.

The silent auction closed on Sunday, and all proceeds went back to the organizations that decorated them.

Gayle Crabtree-Pergoli, vice president of the Friends of the Mound House and organizer of the museum's Christmas Market, said her tree was covered in hand-made ornaments.

"All of the board and our volunteers crafted shell ornaments for that tree, like sea urchins, sea stars, and angel wing shells," she said.

"I so believe in the mission. And I want everybody on this island to work as a community."

Crabtree-Pergoli handpicked more than 10 vendors for the Mound House's Christmas Market, including Councell Farms Local Raw Honey, Hot or Not Jellies and Jams, and Well-Kneaded Massage, who gave massages on the lawn of the Mound House.

"Not only did I know they had great products, but I knew they would all network with one another," she said.

Alison Giesen, director of the museum, said the rare offering of free admission and tours of the grounds brought out over a hundred people, many from the local community.

"It's really nice to see everyone from the neighborhood come out," Giesen said.

"I think we had a fabulous turnout from the first inaugural Christmas Market to benefit the Mound House," said Crabtree-Pergoli.

Funds from the event will go toward the museum's educational summer camp, which teaches students about the area's history, and promotes a connection to nature.

"A lot of our kids, not Beach Elementary necessarily, but other school kids have never been on the water. They've never really experienced this island, with the history and beautiful Estero Bay. So it's an eye-opener for them to come and experience it. We hope to fund as many of these scholarships as possible to allow everybody the opportunity to come here," she said.

Crabtree-Pergoli is also on the board of the Women's Club, and she is pleased with the way their community calendar keeps the island's non-profits coordinating, not competing.

"We're fostering that. All taking care of one another for the benefit of the greater good," she said.



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