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Covenant Woods Christmas Market attracts hundreds of eager shoppers

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Rose Costanzo

Rose Costanzo, a Covenant Woods resident and member of the Sew and Sews Quilters, sits with the collection of her group’s donated quilts. Her animal quilt was among the quilts that were raffled off to visitors.

Hundreds of Hanoverians got a head start on their Christmas shopping this year at the Covenant Woods 2022 Christmas Market, which sold an array of artisan crafts and holiday décor on behalf of the local community.

Held on Friday, Nov. 4, the annual market attracted a crowd of eager shoppers before the doors even opened at 10 a.m. for their first pick of this year’s impressive selection, which featured more vendors and crafts than ever before. The market doors stayed open until 4 p.m. and welcomed the public to enjoy a day of holiday shopping while benefiting their local community.

Laurie Ursiny, Covenant Woods director of philanthropy, said this year featured the collections of 26 vendors, with 15 participating in the market for the first time. All vendors were local artisans from around the Mechanicsville and Richmond areas, and many were even Covenant Woods residents.

Handcrafted wooden bowls and other household items, soaps and handmade body products, paintings, prints, antique dolls, fabric purses, table runners, jewelry, an array of Christmas décor and much more flew off the tables before the market came to a close.

The Guild at Covenant Woods additionally featured a table stocked high with Christmas-themed baked goods of all shapes and sizes, with their assortment quickly thinning out by the early afternoon.

All proceeds from the market will fund the Covenant Woods Raymond T. Holmes, Jr. Community Services Fund, with vendors donating 20% of their earnings directly to the fund.

The fund is named in honor of Holmes, who was a longtime volunteer and was instrumental in helping to move Covenant Woods, formerly known as The Richmond Home for Ladies, to Hanover County.

“The fund supports residents and seniors in the local community with educational service offerings,” Ursiny said, adding that it helps to fund musical and entertainment programs on campus, supports the Hanover County Caregiver Expo and Resource Event, and more.

In the past year, the Holmes Fund has provided free trips to medical appointments and the grocery store, cultural opportunities and continuing education for chaplain interns.

In addition, the Covenant Woods Sew and Sews Quilters donated six handmade quilts to raffle off to guests on behalf of the Covenant Woods J. Edwin Givens Fund, which provides scholarships to deserving staff who choose to pursue an undergraduate degree or trade school certificate. The fund, which was named on behalf of a volunteer who dedicated over 40 years of volunteer service to the Richmond Home for Ladies, has awarded more than $140,000 in scholarships since it was formed in 2009.

Most vendors donated other raffle items for various raffles on display in The Lodge Lobby.

“The market gives customers the perfect opportunity to select, in most cases, handmade gifts for their loved ones and for themselves, but it also provides a way for Covenant Woods to give back to our local community,” Ursiny said. “Because as a residential community in Hanover County, we value our neighbors and our community and want to be able to partner and give back where we can.”

“It not only helps our residents be involved, but it helps us be a good neighbor,” she added.

Covenant Woods resident Susan Riddell said she enjoys featuring her oil and watercolor paintings and prints every year at the market, as she has never stopped painting even after retirement. Riddell, who used to hold a career in graphic art, said her artwork is “more than a hobby, because [she does it] every single day.”

“I know a lot of people who come through the market; it’s a big party and it’s a chance to talk to people and simply show them what I do,” Riddell said. “You know you meet people here, and we’re all retired, and so you don’t want to say, ‘What did you used to do?’”

Covenant Woods resident Rose Costanzo, who is among the ladies of Sew and Sews Quilters, said she never knows how long it takes her to complete a quilt. Even while she is working on finishing one piece, she is always thinking about the next project.

“It’s life therapy and I love doing it,” Costanzo said. “I don’t think about the time – I just quilt.”

With this year’s Christmas Market drawing a record number of vendors and visitors, the annual community attraction continues to grow in prominence over the years. With visitors leaving with shopping bags full and vendor tables left sparse, anticipation for what next year’s market will bring was a popular topic of conversation.

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