Anna Kiley, a very close friend and philanthropist, took it upon herself to do an event for The Michael Fund in Whitefish, Montana. The annual Whitefish Chrismas Stroll is the kickoff to the holiday season. Locals and visitors alike dress up in their best holiday attire and take the streets to shop and socialize. Chestnuts are roasting on open fires, there are ice sculptures, carolers, a bell choir, miniature ponies with glitter in their tails, and horse drawn carriage rides. Store vendors serve hot cocoa and cookies while people check out their window displays, part of the annual window decorating contest. And of course, food and holiday crafts are for sale on the streets.
With the Utz family in mind, Anna decided to utilize this wonderful event as a venue to raise money for The Michael Fund. To prepare, she spent time in early November collecting materials from Big Mountain and the local forest to make wreaths that she could sell. She found "Old Man's Beard," a moss that grows on trees, to be a perfect base material and a catchy ingredient to market. Over the next six weeks she made 34 wreaths in small, medium and large sizes using Old Man's Beard, sticks, and dried flowers (including sunflowers.) Each wreath was topped off with a luscious ribbon.
On Friday, December 11th, Anna took the wreaths to the 2009 Christmas Stroll and displayed them on a six-paneled door. Her signs told shoppers that 100% of sales were going to charity and she made sure to vocally tell people as well. The event was an overall success. The streets of Whitefish were packed with merriment and she selflessly raised $645 for The Michael Fund. Anna hopes that this donation will genuinely support families with arthrogryposis and show them they have friends in Whitefish.
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