Celebration for veterans includes tree lighting

WESTFIELD-Marion Kraus and Barbara Wojick enjoy creating and decorating Christmas trees together and their efforts will be showcased when a 7.5-foot tree to honor Westfield’s veterans, past and present, is unveiled at the Westfield Senior Center.

The Great Room at the senior center will be the setting for a special pre-holiday tree lighting on Nov. 7, beginning at 11 a.m. Julie Barnes, director of veterans’ services for the city, will light the tree.

Barbara Wojick and Marion Kraus have been decorating Christmas trees at the Westfield Senior Center for several years. (Submitted photo)

“Marion and Barbara work tirelessly each year to create a special tree for our police, fire and veterans,” said Barnes. “These trees are works of art and are a must see! We appreciate all the time and effort they put into these beautiful creations that grace the Westfield Senior Center each Christmas season.”

Marion Kraus and Barbara Wojick created the handmade ornaments for a Christmas tree honoring veterans that will be part of a pre-holiday tree lighting ceremony on Nov. 7. (Submitted photo)

Each February, the women start thinking about a theme for the annual Christmas tree, and in recent years, the themes have included the Westfield Police Department and the Westfield Fire Department.

“My four brothers served in all branches of the service,” said Kraus. “Veterans touch every family and everyone knows a veteran.”

Wojick said creating the tree honoring veterans became sentimental to her.

“My father served in the Korean War,” said Wojick, adding that many of her family members including uncles also served in the military.

For both women, their “love” of arts and crafts and especially Christmas makes this annual project a joy to work on.

“I love people, I love giving, and Marion and I just click together,” said Wojick. “It’s a wonderful feeling when people look at the Christmas tree and are very proud of what the ornaments represent.”

Kraus concurred.

“The greatest joy is when Barbara and I see the expression on people’s faces as they look in awe,” said Kraus. “The tree brings respect and I saw that when we did the police and fire department trees.”

The handmade ornaments for the tree – in a red, white and blue theme – include bows and ribbons, as well as wooden flags that are hand painted by the women.

“We have flags representing every war as well as any military action that the United States has participated in since World War I,” said Kraus. “We featured different colors for different eras.”

The special celebration on Nov. 7 will also feature a musical performance by the Do Re Mi Singers who will present a patriotic musical sing-along titled “A Salute to Our Veterans.”

After the sing-along a lunch follows featuring Yankee pot roast with gravy, mashed potatoes, vegetable medley and apple crumble a ‘la mode.

Tickets are $3 and must be purchased in advance since seating is limited.

A special collection of personal and hygiene items will also take place for those men and women currently serving overseas. Items sought include white socks, individual wet wipes, foot powder, small board games and puzzle books as well as combs and hairbrushes, toothpaste, toothbrushes, dental floss and lip balm. Winter hats and gloves, as well as batteries (C, D, AA and AAA) are also welcomed. Shirley Mason is coordinating this special collection and items may be dropped off at the senior center from Nov. 7-12.

For more information on the event, call (413) 562-6435.

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