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Winter Wonderland reaches new heights 

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Karonhiaráhstha’s Winter Wonderland, a flagship fundraising event in the community, just wrapped up its ninth edition last Sunday. And it had its biggest turnout to date. 

Over nearly a decade, it has garnered mounting support from participants as well as sponsors, with 21 sponsored trees with a pile of gifts around them decorating the Knights of Columbus Hall this year through November 11-19. 

“Every year it grows. Every year, we see new faces – both from our community and surrounding communities – walk through those doors,” said Carla Skye, board member at Kateri Memorial Foundation (KMF). 

Skye created the fundraiser in memory of her late baby daughter Karonhiaráhstha’, who passed away suddenly in 2013.

“It’s always just amazing to see everybody come together, especially for the Winter Wonderland, because it raises money for the scholarship fund,” said KMF’s Kaylia Diabo-Morris, who helped organize the event alongside Emily Stacey and Skye.

Though it is too early to tell the amount raised between the ticket sales and the half-and-half, Skye says she’s certain it far exceeds last year’s total raised, perhaps even reaching a figure in the neighbourhood of $200,000.

“It amazes me how the community always just comes together. It was just very successful,” said Skye. 

The group of volunteers behind the scenes helping run the show – some of whom have been devoted to the cause for many years – also grew this year. 

“The continued growing support is awesome. Everybody giving back to the foundation, which goes right back into our community, is always a good thing,” said Tekarahkwenhawe Tina Stacey, a first-time volunteer at the event. 

“I had so much fun. It got me off my couch and out of the house to socialize and that in itself was very rewarding for my mental health.”

Stacey also ended up winning the Kahnawake Shakotiia’takehnhas Community Services (KSCS) tree which includes a travel voucher worth $2,500 and a Disney gift card of $500 US among other gifts.

“My daughters and I were very excited to win. I think the whole neighbourhood heard me screaming with excitement,” said Stacey. 

Aside from 21 tree winners, there were eight door prize winners – consisting of four $500 cash prizes and four $500 gift cards. 

The largest prize of all went to Tara Martin, winner of the half-and-half, who took home a heaping $47,250.

To Skye’s surprise, they sold out of the tickets for the half-and-half draw, despite having ordered double the amount of tickets compared to last year. She attributes much of the growth to word of mouth in the community.

“It was nice to be able to witness this year. At least three people who really, really needed and appreciated winning their tree. I know everybody appreciates it, but some were really in need of what they won. Our heart was full,” she said.

Skye is already looking forward to the 10-year anniversary in 2024 and said they’ve already reached their capacity for tree sponsors – with 20 of them secured – unless they can move into a bigger building.

This article was originally published in print on Friday, November 24, in issue 32.47 of The Eastern Door.

Nanor is a reporter and copy editor with The Eastern Door. She was previously the managing editor and creative director at The Link.

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Nanor is a reporter and copy editor with The Eastern Door. She was previously the managing editor and creative director at The Link.