The volunteers at Providence St. Mary Medical Center keep everything at the hospital running smoothly. One of the big projects is the annual fundraiser, the Christmas Fantasy Bazaar, which takes place this week.

Volunteer Services Coordinator Patti Lennartson gives the credit to the dedicated, enthusiastic volunteers.

“It’s completely volunteer run, lead and driven. I pretty much just help with ideas and advise. They run it,” Lennartson said.

“We have rock star volunteers,” said Development Manager Lindsey Oldridge.

The hospital’s volunteer-driven structure lets people maximize their creativity and initiative.

“We just remove those barriers,” Oldridge said.

The success of the hospital is important to its volunteers.

“It’s a very meaningful way to give back. A lot of our volunteers have had a care experience here, or their family has, and they want a way to give back,” she said.

In addition to those in the gift shop, Lennartson said, “We have wonderful volunteers everywhere in the hospital.”

About 20 volunteers staff the gift shop, and overall the hospital has about 83. But they could use more; it’s a huge job and it never stops.

“We need volunteers in the Cancer Center,” she said.

The Christmas Fantasy event will be set up and run primarily by gift shop volunteers.

Sales in the gift shop fund the St, Mary Service League, which leads the hospital volunteers and raises funds for the employee scholarship program. The League also recently gave a large pledge to Providence’s Cancer Center campaign.

The annual bazaar was started initially to help busy employees efficiently Christmas shop despite working long hours.

Lennartson said there is a huge reset of the Gift Shop in anticipation of the opening of the bazaar Thursday morning. This year there will be different themes, including gnomes, nativities and other holiday fare.

“Our buyers have very intentional themes,” Oldridge said. “It’s all fun.”

Another feature of the sale this year will be the easy, fast, grab-and-go gifts. See’s Candies will be available, as well as decorative mugs, many already with ribbons.

“So you don’t even have to wrap it,” she said.

Karlene Ponti can be reached at karleneponti@wwub.com or 509-526-8324.

Karlene Ponti began as Special Publications Writer in 1999, work includes Lifestyles, The Weekly and Business Monthly. After Wa-Hi, Ponti attended Whitman and is a UW graduate. Later she was ordained a Christian minister at CDM Spiritual Teaching Center.

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