Aleph Swanson (from left), Pearl Hebert and Marilyn Carter work to complete a candy wreath at a recent work party for the AOK Club at the Washington Oakes Retirement Community in Everett. The finished wreaths are sold to benefit local charities. It’s just one of the club’s year-round activities to support local nonprofits. (Melissa Slager / The Herald)

Aleph Swanson (from left), Pearl Hebert and Marilyn Carter work to complete a candy wreath at a recent work party for the AOK Club at the Washington Oakes Retirement Community in Everett. The finished wreaths are sold to benefit local charities. It’s just one of the club’s year-round activities to support local nonprofits. (Melissa Slager / The Herald)

The retirees of the AOK Club are crafty fundraisers

Every year, their assembly line creates candy wreaths to raise money for charities.

EVERETT — More than 100 pounds of candy. Over 200 hours spent sewing, wrapping, wiring, gluing and tying. A bolt and a half of festive green netting. Too many glue-gun sticks to count (and the minor fingertip burns that come with them).

In the end, about $1,500 for local charities.

All thanks to an endless amount of giving spirit.

The AOK Club has been hard at work this holiday season. The group, which focuses on “Acts of Kindness” throughout the year, is made up of residents at Washington Oakes Retirement Community in north Everett. They recently wrapped up their annual holiday candy wreath benefit.

“It’s been a hard job, but it’s been a fun job,” said Barbara Callaghan, 84, vice president of the AOK Club.

The AOK Club at Washington Oakes Retirement Community’s finished wreaths are sold to benefit local charities. It’s just one of the club’s year-round activities to support local nonprofits. (Melissa Slager / The Herald)

The AOK Club at Washington Oakes Retirement Community’s finished wreaths are sold to benefit local charities. It’s just one of the club’s year-round activities to support local nonprofits. (Melissa Slager / The Herald)

Residents gathered for work parties throughout the fall to create more than 100 festive wreaths, which feature more than a pound of candy each for buyers to give away to guests at the holidays.

The wreaths were sold for $15 each. Many now hang on residents’ doors. Family members took batches to their workplaces to sell to co-workers.

“We’ve got quite the system going,” Callaghan said at the last wreath work party of the year earlier this month.

AOK Club President Marilyn Carter, 92, started the wreath project. She had started making wreaths more than 65 years ago, when her daughter was in dancing school. She picked up the fundraiser idea and improved upon it over the years. She pays for most of the supplies out of her own pocket.

A gentleman cuts the round plywood bases at the Washington Oakes wood shop.

A retired school teacher and home economics major then wraps the circles with green crepe paper.

Many volunteers then step in to wrap the rounds with wire, attaching candy as they go.

At the recent work party, Aleph Swanson, 92, and Pearl Hebert, 88, glued ruffled green netting around a plywood frame, while Carter tied festive red bows — the finishing touches.

Ruth Duffy — at age 72, called “the baby” of the group — wrapped the finished wreaths and attached hangers to display them for sale. Bags of saltwater taffy and strawberry-filled hard candies sat in baskets, available to purchase for refills.

Callaghan picked up a bit of ruffle she had made earlier. She raised her eyebrows and shook her head. “I sat at the sewing machine for hours.”

The last work party was a small affair, with just eight wreaths left to finish. Earlier in the season, dozens of volunteers filled the room, chatting and laughing as they worked. The event helped engage residents who struggle with dementia or Alzheimer’s, Carter noted. “We got them out of their room working on this. It’s been good therapy,” she said.

Club members look forward to tallying the final sales and deciding where to send the money.

Aleph Swanson (left) and Pearl Hebert glue ruffled netting to a candy wreath. (Melissa Slager / The Daily Herald)

Aleph Swanson (left) and Pearl Hebert glue ruffled netting to a candy wreath. (Melissa Slager / The Daily Herald)

In the past, their fundraiser proceeds have gone to nonprofits focused on hospice care, domestic violence prevention, senior meal delivery and homeless teens.

“So far we’ve been trying to do somebody different each time and spread it around,” Callaghan said.

Other fundraisers throughout the year include a garage sale, a raffle and a “Date With a Server” drive that auctioned off a lunch date with kitchen staff. That was a popular one.

Next up is a raffle for a donated Red Skelton painting that is valued at over $400.

Club members are finalizing details for that one. Raffle ticket sales are likely to start by February. The public will be welcome to purchase raffle tickets, too.

“Everything that we do is for charity,” Callaghan said.

Melissa Slager: mslager@heraldnet.com; 425-339-3432.

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Local News

A view of one of the potential locations of the new Aquasox stadium on Monday, Feb. 26, 2024 in Everett, Washington. The site sits between Hewitt Avenue, Broadway, Pacific Avenue and the railroad. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
20 businesses could be demolished for downtown Everett stadium

Some business owners say the city didn’t tell them of plans for a new AquaSox stadium that could displace their businesses.

Kathy Purviance-Snow poses for a photo in her computer lab at Snohomish High School on Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2024, in Snohomish, WA. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
To ban or embrace ChatGPT? Local teachers fight AI with AI — or don’t

“It has fundamentally changed my teaching in really stressful and exciting ways,” an EvCC teacher said. At all levels of education, ChatGPT poses a tricky question.

In this Feb. 5, 2018, file photo a Boeing 737 MAX 7 is displayed during a debut for employees and media of the new jet in Renton, Wash. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)
FAA gives Boeing 90 days to develop plan to fix quality, safety issues

The agency’s ultimatum comes a day after a meeting with CEO Dave Calhoun and other top Boeing officials in Washington, D.C.

Two troopers place a photo of slain Washington State Patrol trooper Chris Gadd outside WSP District 7 Headquarters about twelve hours after Gadd was struck and killed in a collision on southbound I-5 about a mile from the headquarters on Saturday, March 2, 2024, in Marysville, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
State trooper killed, 1 arrested in crash on I-5 near Marysville

Authorities said Trooper Chris Gadd had been stopped along the freeway around 3 a.m. near 136th Street NE. A Lynnwood driver, 32, was arrested.

A man walks by Pfizer headquarters, Friday, Feb. 5, 2021, in New York. Pfizer will spend about $43 billion to buy Seagen and broaden its reach into cancer treatments, the pharmaceutical giant said. (AP Photo / Mark Lennihan, File)
Pfizer backs out of Everett manufacturing plant after $43B Seagen deal

Pfizer finalized the acquisition of the Bothell-based cancer drug developer in December.

Madi Humphries, 9, Rose Austin, 13, and Eirene Ritting, 8, on Thursday, Jan. 25, 2024 in Bothell, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
No grades, no teachers: Inside a Bothell school run by student vote

Each day at The Clearwater School, 60 students choose their own lessons. It’s one vote per person, whether you’re staff or student.

SonShine Preschool inside First Baptist Church Monroe is pictured Friday, March 1, 2024, in Monroe, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
SonShine preschool in Monroe to close at the end of the year

The preschool, operated by First Baptist Church, served kids for 25 years. School leadership did not explain the reason behind the closure.

Providence Hospital in Everett at sunset Monday night on December 11, 2017. Officials Providence St. Joseph Health Ascension Health reportedly are discussing a merger that would create a chain of hospitals, including Providence Regional Medical Center Everett, plus clinics and medical care centers in 26 states spanning both coasts. (Kevin Clark / The Daily Herald)
Following lawsuit, Providence commits to improved care for Deaf patients

Three patients from Snohomish County sued Providence in 2022 for alleged Americans with Disabilities Act violations.

Cars drive through snow along I-5 in Snohomish County, Washington on Thursday, Jan. 11, 2024.  (Annie Barker / The Herald)
In March, 7 p.m. sunsets are back for Western Washington

Washingtonians will finally start seeing more sun starting March 10. But a little more winter could be on the way first.

One of the parking lots at Stevens Pass Thursday afternoon on December 30, 2021.  (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Stevens Pass to charge $20 for parking reservations on busy days

Two-thirds of spaces will remain free for early arrivers on weekends. Cars with four or more occupants can also park free.

Lynnwood
Days after shootout with Lynnwood police, suspect checks into hospital

Police learned the 18-year-old was in a hospital in Portland, Oregon. His alleged role in the shooting remained unclear.

Everett
Snohomish County pharmacy tech accused of stealing 2,500 opioid pills

Rachel Langdon stole oxycodone while working at a Snohomish County pharmacy, according to state Department of Health allegations.

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.