NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

October 31, 2013

Feeling festive

Anna Jaques fundraiser features flowers, holiday shopping

By Ann Reily
Features Editor

---- — Buying Christmas presents can be a time-consuming, exhausting venture. Traveling from store to store, hoping to find the perfect gift for everyone on your list, can take its toll.

But a new festive fundraiser from the Anna Jaques Hospital Aid Association aims to take the pain out of the process by bringing a variety of vendors together for one-stop shopping.

Set for Tuesday, Nov. 12, at the Blue Ocean Music Hall in Salisbury, “Holidays in Bloom” will also help attendees “deck the halls” for Thanksgiving, Hanukkah and Christmas. Steve Janavicus of Flowers by Steve in Haverhill will demonstrate how to create memorable floral arrangements, which will then be raffled off.

Looking to expand its major fundraising efforts beyond its annual spring Great Chefs’ Night, the association decided to take Janavicus up on his offer to help with an event.

“We thought it would be fun to have something in the fall,” said Susie Parker, a member of the association’s board directors. “We wanted to do something special that is a little unique to what the aid has done before.”

Parker and fellow board members attended the Danvers Garden Club’s “An Evening With Flowers by Steve” this past April and decided to expand on the format of that event, which included a demonstration and a few merchants selling products.

“We decided to take that vendor idea and run hard with it,” said Susan Dixon, manager of the hospital gift shop and a member of the aid association board.

“All of the vendors are focused on holiday gift giving,” Parker said. “We tried to really think of what people would want during the holiday season.”

Items for sale will include sterling silver jewelry from Sunburst Trading in Rowley, giant fortune cookies from Fantastic Fortunes in Maine, homemade jams from R.E. Kimball and Company in Amesbury, calendars and notecards from local photographer Suzanne DeGeorge, and clothing and jewelry from Rocas in Newburyport.

“She has wonderful accessories,” Parker said of Rocas owner Rosemary Silva.

Other participating vendors are Bali Hai Imports, Ovedia Artisan Chocolates and the Anna Jaques gift shop, which will offer a variety of items, including Rosy Rings candles and Alex and Ani jewelry.

“We really have a lot of stuff in that little gift shop,” Dixon said. “This night is a real opportunity for us.”

Dixon said the shop just got a new shipment of Alex and Ani items, which are really popular with shoppers there, and will have a representative from the company at “Holidays in Bloom.”

“That’s a gift for literally every woman on your list,” she said.

Janavicus, who provides the flowers for the hospital gift shop, will offer a mini boutique with floral arrangements and wreaths.

Guests at the fundraiser will have the opportunity to shop both before and after Janavicus’ demonstration, which will include tips on heights, bases and different kinds of arrangements. There will also be a “roving mike” during his presentation, allowing for questions and interaction with the florist.

Additionally, the evening will feature hors d’oeuvres from Salisbury’s Seaglass Restaurant and a cash bar.

“It’s not a stuffy event,” Dixon said. “It’s just a fun, laid-back evening.”

All of the profits from “Holidays in Bloom,” other fundraising efforts and gift shop sales benefit the aid association, which gives money to the hospital for patient care and services. This fall, the association donated $108,000 to the hospital, which paid for birth center patient room upgrades, portable surgeon headlights, improvements to the pediatric psychiatric patient visitor room and more.

“We all know how lucky we are to have a hospital of Anna Jaques’ caliber here, and we need to support that,” Parker said.

If you go

What: “Holidays in Bloom”

When: Tuesday, Nov. 12, 6 to 10 p.m.

Where: Blue Ocean Music Hall, 4 Oceanfront North, Salisbury

Tickets: $45 per person. Tables for six or eight may also be reserved. Send checks, made out to AJH Aid Association, to Amanda LaPlante, Volunteer Office, Anna Jaques Hospital, 25 Highland Ave., Newburyport, MA 01950. To pay by credit card, visit www.ajh.org and click on “Holidays in Bloom,” or call 978-463-1150.