Camden Woman's Club 33rd Holly Days gets underway Saturday

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Beverly Gerres (left) knits on a loom while her friend, Peggy Compton, watches during last year's Holly Days Festival of Gifts. This year's two-day festival will be held Saturday and Sunday at Camden Intermediate School.

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By William F. West
Staff Writer

Friday, November 2, 2018

CAMDEN — Area residents seeking to get an early jump on the Christmas shopping season will have two days to do so this weekend in Camden County.

The 33rd annual Holly Days Festival of Gifts gets underway Saturday at Camden Intermediate School at 10 a.m. The festival, hosted by the Camden Woman’s Club, will continue Saturday through 5 p.m. and be open again on Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Camden Woman’s Club member Beth Upton, who has chaired the Holly Days event for the past six years, said more than 70 vendors are expected to participate in this year’s festival.

The event will feature a variety of crafts and retail items, including baskets, ceramic Christmas trees, clothing, cutlery, decorative mesh wreaths, environmentally-safe cleaning products and jewelry.

One new feature this year, Upton said, will be a visit from jolly old Saint Nick. Santa Claus will be available for “Selfies with Santa” Sunday from noon to 3 p.m. 

Upton said a pharmacist from CVS will also be on hand to offer festival attendees flu shots.

Admission to Holly Days is $4 for adults, but they can get a $1 discount if they bring a canned food donation. Admission is $2 for senior citizens and students, and free for children younger than 5.

According to Upton, Holly Days is the Camden Woman’s Club’s largest annual fundraiser, generating anywhere from $8,000 to $10,000. 

Upton said much of the money raised from Holly Days goes back into the Camden County Schools to help pay for college scholarships for students and school-related needs. For example, the club recently provided each of Camden’s five schools with $1,000 worth of photocopy paper.

The club annually awards one $500 scholarship to a Camden student and $250 to another Camden student, Upton said. The recipient of the $500 scholarship also is able to compete at both the district and state levels of the Woman’s Club organization for more scholarship funding.

The Camden Woman’s Club also helps Operation Smile, the Hampton Roads, Virginia-based organization that funds doctors’ trips across the globe to perform operations to repair the cleft lips and palates of children. Upton noted she and other club members have visited an Operation Smile warehouse, where they helped fill and pack bags of toys for children patients.

The Camden Woman’s Club has also worked with the Ronald McDonald House next to Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters in Norfolk. The club purchased a new television for the facility, which helps allows families to stay close by while children are being treated at the hospital.

Closer to home, the club promotes conservation efforts by picking up litter along a two-mile section of N.C. Highway 343 north of U.S. Highway 158.

Upton retired in May 2017 from the Camden Department of Social Services. She has been involved in the Camden Woman’s Club for at least three decades and currently serves as the club’s treasurer.

She said the organization dates back to prior to the outbreak of World War II.

The club has a page on Facebook.