Lowly Spider Keeps Weaving Web of Wonder
By Dianne Alward-Biery
Cleaver Staff Writer
Copyright Clare County Cleaver
HARRISON – Harrison resident Lisa Baugher has had a longtime love affair with the lowly spider: Christmas Spider, that is. For some 10 years now [11 Christmases], she has been artfully creating Christmas Spider ornaments from wire and delicate, ornate glass beads of various shapes and selling them – but not for personal monetary gain. Baugher’s goal lies in imagining the faces of children who will delight in the toys they receive on Christmas morning.
Baugher starts her project long, long, long before Christmas, and that is essential, because she often fashions hundreds of her little, elegant and sparkling Christmas Spiders. She then packages them up along with a copy of “The Legend of the Christmas Spider” which Baugher said is actually an old German legend. That legend explains how some lowly spiders attempted to see up-close the Christmas tree in the humble house where they dwelled, and in-so-doing scrambled all over the tree, leaving webs in their wake. The next day, when the Christ Child came to bless the house, he turned those webs into sparkling, shimmering silver and gold. That is said to be the beginning of hanging tinsel on the tree, and when the tradition began of hanging a spider on the Christmas tree.
Her gift for creating the beautiful 3-inch spider ornaments has resulted in Baugher’s annual project of directing all her profits to the purchase of children’s toys, which she then donates to Toys for Tots for distribution. How can she earn enough to contribute much? Well, in 2015 alone, her efforts netted $1,000 which she turned into approximately 200 toys for children. Multiply that by 11 Christmas seasons and it’s easy to see how many childhoods Baugher has touched.
Such effort is admirable, and it has not gone unnoticed. State Rep. Jason Wentworth sent Baugher a handwritten letter thanking her for all her work on behalf of Toys for Tots. She, in turn, sent him a spider this year. He then invited Baugher to come down the Capitol to hang one of her spiders there. So, that’s what Baugher did during the week before Christmas.
“It was so cool,” Baugher said. “We got a personal tour that most people wouldn’t have gotten. Jason Wentworth of the 97th District of the House of Representatives walked us around. It was
just really neat.”
Baugher said the tour included walking right on into the House of Representatives Chambers, and noted how special it was to be so close to so much of the state’s history.
“I got pictures of the door knobs with the Great Seal,” she said.
She also was impressed with the chandeliers and all the embellishments using the Coat of Arms of Michigan.
Baugher has said that she believes every year that she won’t be making the spiders anymore, but each year she finds renewed purpose and keeps “paying it forward” to the benefit of children she will never meet.
“I’m just happy a kid gets a toy,” she said. “That’s all it’s about.”
Toys for Tots Breaks Records and Makes a Difference
By Angela Kellogg
Cleaver Managing Editor
Copyright Clare County Cleaver
Toys for Tots has been organizing and holding fundraising events for months in anticipation of their annual toy distribution on Saturday, December 23 at Finch Field House on the CMU campus in Mt. Pleasant.
While the event is held in Isabella county it serves families in Isabella and Clare county. Shannon Coulson, Assistant Clare County Coordinator explained some people have expressed concern that toys and funds raised locally should stay local. She clarified that the largest percentage of families served at distribution day are from Clare county and all donations stay in the local area.
You may have seen Lisa Baugher, also known as the Spider Lady, at craft sales and bazaars selling spider holiday ornaments. The spiders have an interesting history and make a great conversation piece on your Christmas tree but Lisa’s mission is larger than just making ornaments. Lisa makes the spiders herself, sells them and uses the proceeds to purchase toys for the Toys for Tots program of Central Michigan. This year Lisa purchased over 400 toys breaking her record from last year of 305.
For more information about Toys for Tots visit Central Michigan Area Toys for Tots, Isabella County & Clare Counties, MI on Facebook or www.toysfortots.com.