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Christmas wreaths on Rose Street in Regina

Wreaths hang on downtown lampposts in Regina for the holiday season. Photo by Trelle Burdeniuk.

by Trelle Burdeniuk
 

The Christmas wreaths lining downtown Regina weren't made in Santa's workshop, but at a place a bit closer to home. A farm in Lajord, about 40 km southeast of Regina, houses Harvest Community Inc. The organization employs adults with special needs who worked from July until October making Christmas decorations for the Queen City.

 

For Harvest Community executive director Gwen Herman, the wreath-making project made her feel like Christmas came early.

 

"A couple of times I went out to the shop in July and they were starting to sing 'Jingle Bells' and certain Christmas songs just to get in the mood," said Herman.

 

Judith Veresuk, executive director of the Regina Downtown Business Improvement District, said the wreaths on many downtown lampposts were badly in need of repair.Rather than buy new wreaths, she contacted Harvest Community Inc. to repair the wreaths.

 

"We used the old wreath frames. We replaced the garland because the old garland and the lighting that was on it before were also failing. A lot of the fringe from the garland was starting to fall off. They were about 30 years old," said Veresuk.

 

This was part of a complete overhaul of all the city’s Christmas decorations, including new banners, snowflake light fixtures and wreaths.

 

"The old Christmas lights were at a point where they were beginning to corrode and the bulbs were quite inefficient,” said Veresuk. The new decorations are more energy-efficient by using LED lights.

 

It cost $100,000 this year to replace all the old decorations. While this is a large amount of money, Veresuk said she hoped it would pay off in the end.

 

"If the old decorations were able to last 30 years, I'm sure we'll get at least that lifespan out of these new ones. You go big one year, but then you know that it's an investment and it's going to last you for years to come."

 

For the people with disabilities at the Harvest Community organization, making the wreaths brought Christmas cheer and the opportunity to tackle a new project they've never done before. After the decorations went up in mid-November, they went on a field trip to see their handiwork.

 

"They were very proud to see their work and (I was) able to tell them, 'Look how many people get enjoyment now out of these Christmas decorations that you guys have put together,'” said Herman. “I like projects where there’s a lot of job satisfaction that they can see the final project completed and know that it’s appreciated.  

 

Harvest Community Inc. is a non-profit organization that was created more than 30 years ago. The Kinsmen Foundation donated the 80 acres of land where the farm and workshop were built.