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Christmas collections are the feature for 5 Places location on Bethel campus

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NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – Local residents’ love of collecting will be on display for the Bethel College Women’s Association’s contribution to “5 Places of Christmas.”

As part of the annual event, Dec. 6 in Newton and North Newton, BCWA will present Christmas collections of all kinds.

A second “5 Places of Christmas” location on the Bethel campus is Kauffman Museum, at the corner of Main and 27th Streets in North Newton, with special features including an indoor scavenger hunt and a talk by museum director Annette LeZotte on “Nuns and Nativity Cradles.”

“5 Places of Christmas” locations are open 10 a.m.-4 p.m. and admission to all of them is free.

The Christmas collections, which include Christmas ornaments and other items, will be placed “around the circle” in Bethel College’s newly renovated and refurbished Luyken Fine Arts Center.

Judy Schrag, Newton, a member of the planning committee for the event, said more than 25 people will bring their collections.

There will be Christmas villages, blown-glass ornaments, snowmen, snow globes, German candle pyramids and star ornaments, among others.

They will be displayed on tables inside the Luyken Fine Arts Center, starting at the west door by the parking lot.

Schrag emphasized that “this space is very accessible” for those who might need wheelchairs or walkers to view “Christmas Collections.”

Karen Garcia, Newton, started collecting Coca-Cola Santa plates when she got a brochure in the mail several years ago.

“I ordered the first plate because I love Santa and I like Coke, and I thought they’d make a nice addition to my other decorations,” she said.

Rachel Schrag Sommerfeld, Wichita, will bring her collection of angels.

“Some have been homemade, from handkerchiefs, paper, yarn, fabric and rags. [Others that were purchased] are made of glass, ceramic, metal, pressed paper and molded plastic,” she said.

Marcia Miller, Hesston, is sharing collections of her own plus those of her daughters, Julia Miller, Marion, and Audra Miller, San Francisco.

After Audra began collecting snow globes as a little girl, her twin, Julia, didn’t want to be outdone.

“I started collecting Cherished Teddies when I was eight years old,” Julia said. “At that time, Wilson’s Drug Store was in Newton. We stopped there every once in a while and that is when I stumbled across Cherished Teddies.”

For the BCWA event, she’ll show the “winter scene” Teddies.

Marcia Miller’s own collections include folded German stars and glass ornaments.

“My mother-in-law, Lola Miller, gave me a blown-glass bird ornament when Steve and I first were married,” Miller said. “I began collecting more blown-glass ornaments when I lived near Kansas City. My daughters were in Germany at the Christmas Markets last year and brought me a new one from there.”

Kathy Schroeder’s father, Calvin Schroeder, carved the Santas that make up her collection.

“Dad was an industrial arts major and played basketball at Bethel,” said Schroeder, Goessel. “He worked as a teacher, coach and public school administrator, and he built fine furniture until arthritis made it difficult for him to work with large pieces. Then he began carving. Most of the Santas were painted by my mother, Nancy Schroeder.”

Last year, BCWA’s display of Nativities included a table where children could handle and play with some of them. This year, Schrag said, there will be a book nook, furnished with one of her collections: children’s Christmas books.

“Some are old-time favorites and have been read and reread for decades, and it’s nice to share them with a new generation of children,” she said. “Our family has a tradition of having the youngest reader in the family read the Christmas story before we open gifts. The children’s versions are easier for them.”

In addition to the display, BCWA will have baked goods and “homemade candy by the pound” for sale, with all proceeds going to Bethel College.

Another popular treat: fresh cinnamon rolls, with a free cup of coffee when you buy one, “so you can just sit and take in the spirit of the season,” Schrag said.

BCWA will also sponsor a Holiday Gift Shop. Among the items for sale will be two new ones, introduced at Fall Festival in October: a threshing stone pendant and a tote embroidered with the Bethel College logo.

At Kauffman Museum, there will be Christmas items in the museum store, sale tables and three new books for sale (two children’s books, Swords to Plowshares by Lisa Weaver and Big Brutus, the Kansas Coal Shovel by Marilyn Eck with illustrations by Bethel student Jessie Pohl, and a collection of Bob Regier’s bird art, From Avocet to Yellowthroat).

Annette LeZotte’s talk is at 11 a.m. The scavenger hunt is a search through the museum galleries for pieces from a Nativity set. When you find a piece, you exchange it for a ticket to enter a drawing to win the entire crèche.

The rest of the “5 Places of Christmas” are all in Newton: Warkentin House (211 East First Street), Carriage Factory Gallery (128 East Sixth Street) and the Harvey County Historical Museum (203 North Main Street).

Bethel College is the only private, liberal arts college in Kansas listed in the 2014-15 Forbes.com analysis of top colleges and universities in the United States, and is the highest-ranked Kansas college in the Washington Monthly annual college guide for 2014-15. The four-year liberal arts college is affiliated with Mennonite Church USA. For more information, see www.bethelks.edu.

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