Merrimack VFW craft fair funds fuel annual scholarships

By LORETTA JACKSON

Exquisite gifts rendered by hand, as in years gone by, included knitted sweaters, beaded jewelry and bakery so fresh the crusty fruit crisps seemed to be hearth-baked instead of quick-baked in a modern oven.

The offerings were well appreciated by holiday shoppers at an annual craft fair presented despite the season’s first snow storm on Saturday, Dec. 9. The hosts of the event were the women and men of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Auxiliary of VFW Post 8461, at 282 Daniel Webster Highway, in Merrimack.

The organization, co-ed to include all who wish to support auxiliary projects and programs, is supported at the craft show by generous donors of some nice raffle prizes. The gifts ranged from handcrafted birdhouses with hinged doors to painted items intricately patterned with dots and lines, whose geometrics resembled mosaic work.

Julie DeRubeis, president of the Auxiliary, greeted guests at the door of the second-floor venue and ensured that everyone who wished to participate had ample raffle tickets to place in labeled containers alongside more than a dozen donated prizes.

“The funds from this event go to an annual scholarship fund that assists two seniors at Merrimack High School,” DeRubeis said. “Each scholarship is at least $500 or maybe more, depending upon how much we raise.”

The event was well supported by veterans and their kin. Shirts and caps bearing military insignia were nearly as plentiful as logo apparel that touted the Patriots football team.

Pelham’s Tim Kennedy, an Army veteran who spent three years in Vietnam, and his wife, Leslie, relaxed as she crafted some additional sale items including greeting cards accented with quilling, an art in which thin paper strips are rolled, folded and glued to make decorative designs.

Some of Leslie’s quilling replicated flowers and tiny, delicate butterflies mounted on cardstock. A member of the North American Quilling Guild, the craftmeister often teaches quilling, free, at the Pelham Library or at home quilling parties where the curious pay a small fee to learn the craft.

Elsewhere, Marlene Sanz-Rodriguez, of Nashua, enjoyed a measure of ching-ching with sales at her booth, where her business, “Perfectly Posh,” was in full swing. Requests were steady for fizzy bath bombs, lotions and creams with natural ingredients. Some of her soap bars sported catchy names: Hunk Chunk and Rico Guave, along with a coffee-scented cleanser named, “Where you Bean all my life?”

Specialties were plentiful at the event and each booth was manned by a person who was a master of their particular craft, whether woodworking or glass painting.

One young master, too young to be a mister, was Simon Sirois, 7, a student at New Searles Elementary in Nashua. His mom, Amy Woods, said she and his dad, Josh Sirois, of Nashua, are confident that Simon is destined for greatness, for his beaded bracelets and necklaces were well

designed beauties indicative of a potential future in engineering.

Meanwhile, holiday spirit was abundant at the booth of JKLM Designs and Crafts, a mother-

daughter enterprise that brought Jennifer Melanson, of Merrimack, and her mom, Kathleen Lucie, of Nashua, to the fair. Their wrought-wire bracelets, earrings and pendants were combos of rhinestones, colored metals and beads.

Lucie said she’s been beading since the ’80s and has experience in media ranging from paint to textiles to metalwork. She taught her daughter the skills and the pair have produced hundreds of items highly sought by patrons. Lucie’s favorite designs are variations on angels.

She displayed some angel pendants. The rounded heads were made of crystal beads. The engraved wings were silver-toned and suspended above a teardrop-shaped body made of glass or stone. Each little angel was suspended from a sturdy finding that could be attached to a necklace chain or a charm bracelet.

Lucie tucked one of the little gifts into an attractive blue jewelry box and said, “I love my angels.”

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