MaryAnn Ratcliffe with her handmade Christmas ornaments. DON RICKERS

In Pelham’s bygone days, groups of women would have clustered together for sewing bees, where clothes and household fabrics were mended with needle and thread. MaryAnn Ratcliffe, of Fonthill, has put a seasonal spin on the tradition, mustering a group of friends to create Christmas ornaments for charity that capture in ironic fashion the pandemic.

The ornaments feature a roll of previously scarce toilet paper, with the inscription “2020, the year we all stayed home.” Also available are face masks with the written message “2021, finding hope.”

The face masks alone are $2, while the face mask-ornament combo is selling for $5. Payment may be made in cash and online e-transfer or credit card. Purchasers can also phone Ratcliffe at 905-892-9166 to arrange porch pick-up between 8 AM and 8 PM daily.

Ratcliffe said she was very touched by what the community did to support the fundraiser last year.

“I didn’t go to any big box stores to stock the items, it was all done through 20 local independent businesses, which have all agreed to carry them again this year,” she said.

Some $7500 was raised in 2020, with Pelham Cares and the Third Fonthill Scouts splitting the proceeds. Ratcliffe is confident that $10,000 is an achievable goal for 2021.

“We’ve been meeting for two hours on Monday nights since August 16,” said Ratcliffe. “My neighbour Vera Barnard has been a huge help — the brains behind the process. When I was desperate for people to help last year, she jumped in with both feet. Scout leader Cheryl Fitcyk, Pauline Wright, Brenda Belair, and university student Meghan Mooren have also been involved.”

Ratcliffe found the idea for the Christmas ornaments on Pinterest.

“I love helping out, and giving back,” she said. “We’ll all remember Covid times, and that’s what Christmas ornaments mean to me, memories.”