MARQUETTE - Santa has some special helpers this year.
At the Marquette Senior Center on Fridays for a whole month, volunteers diligently work to create special placemats that will brighten the holiday season for other seniors, including those at the D.J. Jacobetti Veterans Center in Marquette.
"We are making a total of 1,000 placemats this year," said Jane Palmer, Marquette Senior Center coordinator. "We don't do all the placements here. Senior care clubs in other places do them as well."
Mary Hinds works on a placemat at the Marquette Senior Center. The placemats will be used at the Jacobetti Home for Veterans and other facilities housing seniors during the upcoming holiday season. (Journal photos by Renee Prusi)
Kathleen Riopelle works to decorate a placemat that will brighten the holiday season for seniors in the Marquette County area. (Journal photos by Renee Prusi)
Palmer said the base placemats are supplied by Upper Peninsula Home Health Hospice and Private Duty.
"We have Christmas cards here that are donated by seniors all year around that we use for the placemats," Palmer said. "We start the project in October and work on it every Friday because we do so many."
Once the placemats are festooned with Christmas symbols - or in the case of those going to the Jacobetti, stars and stripes - they are returned to UPHHPD to be laminated.
"They take them to Northern Michigan University, where they are laminated. The placemats are laminated in one long roll, then the roll is brought back here and we cut them out," Palmer said. "We have a party to cut them out. We have another party on the last Friday in December to celebrate our work."
As they worked with scissors and gluesticks to dazzle up the placemats, the ladies at the senior center carefully select the elements for each creation.
"I do a flag theme for the ones going to Jacobetti," said JoAnn Fowler. "I find a few Christmas cards here and there have flags on them, then also add lots of stickers with flags."
Audrey Witcher said, "I like to do crafts. I just kind of try to find a theme and go with that."
"And you look for color," added Judy Carlson. "I try to make the colors look good together. This is really a good way to use up old Christmas cards."
For 92-year-old Blanche Brown, her first placemat's theme matched her outfit.
"I guess I was thinking about snowflakes today," she said, indicating her sweater which matched the placemat she was constructing out of the same sort of pattern.
"I just search for pieces that will go together from different cards," Kathleen Riopelle said.
The placemats are a welcome item at the Jacobetti Home for Veterans.
"We use them when we have special events and dinners," said Beth Heikkinen, Jacobetti activities director. "The placemats add color and cheer to the place."
Heikkinen said the veterans enjoy having the community involved with them.
"That boosts morale," she said. "It adds more life to the facility. It reminds our veterans that other people care about them.
"It's greatly appreciated."
Renee Prusi can be contacted at 906-228-2500, ext. 253. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.