MARQUETTE - The homes of children from the Powell Township School District are likely to be a little more festive today than in previous weeks.
Students in kindergarten through eighth grade spent a few hours Wednesday making homemade wreaths as part of an on-going series of events hosted by the Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve to help kids learn about the health of the local environment.
"A lot of wreaths sold in stores are ... plastic. They're not real, and they're being shipped in from who knows how far away," said Christy Budnick, educational coordinator for the YDWP. "We wanted to teach the kids, 'we can make these at home ... as gifts for our families.' They don't have to spend money on Christmas gifts. They can give recycled gifts."
Powell Township School third-grader Jason Kinnunen gets help making a Christmas wreath from Christy Budnick, educational coordinator for the Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve. About 60 students at the school made wreaths to take home for the holidays. (Christy Budnick photo)
Budnick said she searched the woods in the area near her home by Wilson Creek for a variety of evergreen, fir and spruce boughs from downed trees to make the wreaths with.
The late September wind storm left a lot of felled trees in the area near Budnick's home, she said.
"Because of the big wind storm, I didn't have to take any (boughs) off live, healthy trees," she said.
Budnick also traveled to local thrift stores for used coat hangers and bought new wire to use as outlines for the wreaths. For decorations, she provided organic cranberries from Wisconsin and aspen leaves.
"To make 60 wreaths, I spent about $5," Budnick said, adding that the kids were excited about the wreath-making project.
"When I started hauling all this stuff in, their eyes were huge. ... They were all smiles," she said. "Different people kept poking their heads in and the kids were showing what they made. They were pretty proud of themselves, of what they had created."
Budnick said the purpose of the event was to show kids that they don't need to go out and buy gifts for Christmas. Instead, with a little creativity, they can make gifts with local products that will have more meaning and less of an impact on the environment.
For the older kids, the lesson was well-learned, Budnick said.
"Some of the kids took extra pieces of wire so they could take more stuff out of their yard to attach to their wreath once they got home," Budnick said. "It got them thinking, 'Hey, I can do this. I don't need to have a lot of money to make gifts.'"
Budnick's position at YDWR was created through a grant from Nickelodean called the Big Green Grant.
Additional information for YDWR community projects can be found online at www.yellowdogwatershed.org or by calling 345-9223.
Jackie Stark can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 242.