SCOUTING AROUND: Murphy's tree glows because of fairies
Cindy Chastain’s mom was always good at decorating. She would collect her own natural greenery to make a garland, and no matter how many ornaments they had, she’d make their Christmas tree beautiful.
Her best friend, Jill Kernea, went from having one simple Christmas tree as a child to having five throughout her house as an adult.
Chastain and Kernea were given a challenge this year.
The ladies, who work as The Festive Fairies, were asked by Becca McNabb of the Murphy Business Association to decorate the town’s Christmas tree. McNabb said she asked Chastain and Kernea because she knew they do a good job, as they always have elegant and tasteful design ideas.
“I know they are professional,” McNabb said.
At first they were excited to be asked, but soon felt the pressure of such an important job.
“It’s very different to do an outdoor tree like this,” Chastain said.
They volunteered their time – at least 20 hours of work – and local businesses and individuals donated funds for the decorations. Chastain and Kernea were told they could do anything they wanted, and they were thrilled when they saw the Murphy Walmart had plenty of decorations worthy of 20-feet-tall tree.
They decorated the three sections of the tree with 63 strings of lights and about 500 decorations, including 75 big balls and more than 100 lollipops. The lights were donated by Walmart – in fact, they said every business owner or individual they approached for donations said yes.
They were relieved to see all their hard work come together and watch the response.
“Everybody was tickled,” Kernea said. “They loved it.”
McNabb was one of the many happy with what she saw.
“I was so excited,” McNabb said. “It was a drastic improvement. It looked like a tree.”
The Festive Fairies started with Chastain and her daughter, Jordan Hogsed, about five years ago. Hogsed moved to Charlotte a few years ago, so today it’s primarily Chastain and Kernea.
Before starting the side business – Chastain still works as administrative assistant for the N.C. Cooperative Extension Service, while Kernea, who used to work at United Community Bank, watches her 3-year-old grandchild and takes care of her mother – both Chastain and Kernea had been asked by friends for advice on decorating homes, not just for holidays.
Neither have formal training. They simply think some people just have an eye for decorating.
“We love to decorate,” Chastain said. “It’s just something we enjoy.”
Most of their work is seasonal, but they have done storefronts and wedding receptions.
Hogsed, as well as Kernea’s daughter, Kailey Bailey, help for the big projects, like decorating Kim Zolciak-Biermann’s house in Metro Atlanta.
Last year, the reality star known as being one the original Real Housewives of Atlanta asked on her social media for someone to help decorate her house for Christmas. One of Hogsed’s friends saw the post and messaged Zolciak-Biermann that she should hire The Festive Fairies. A few days later, the ladies found themselves decorating her house.
She hired them to come back this year and decorate her house filled with nine trees.
“Apparently, they liked what we did,” Chastain said.
Zolciak-Biermann and her family aren’t the only ones. Each year, they have regular clients, and they pick up one new job each year mostly by word of mouth.
“We enjoy it, and we make a little extra money for Christmas,” Chastain said.
One of their favorite jobs they’ve done, though, is the town’s tree.
“Everyone can enjoy it,” Kernea said.
Help available for winter warmth
Ann Miller Woodford of Andrews is known for her work in the community as well as being a writer and historian. This fall, she found herself being featured on Duke Energy’s Illumination website because she was the one who needed help.
“I almost froze to death the winter before last night,” Woodford explained last week.
She needed repairs on her house in which she also works out of. Even though she was financially unable to help herself in the situation, it was hard for her to ask for the help she needed.
“I guess I was feeling pride,” Woodford said.
That’s when Four Square Community Action – a nonprofit that helps low-income residents – got involved. They were able to help her have warm home, thanks to Duke Energy’s Helping Home Fund.
“They just did a wonderful job,” she said. “I’m grateful.”
Woodford recommends anyone who needs help to survive the winter to reach out to Four Square.
“Sometimes people don’t understand giving up their pride can help them,” she said.
The article, including details about Duke Energy’s assistance programs, can be found in the “Making a Difference” category online at illumination.duke-energy.com. Four Square Community Action in Andrews can be reached at 321-4475.
MANNA comes to Hiwassee Dam
MANNA Food Bank’s Pop-Up Market will be at the Hiwassee Dam Community Center from noon-2 p.m. today. The market was originally planned for Nov. 30, but had to be rescheduled after the truck bringing supplies broke down.
The pop-up market is open to anyone in need of help with groceries. No documentation is needed to receive support – it is based on an honor system. People should bring a bag or a box to carry groceries home. The market is locally hosted by Catholic Charities.
Samantha Sinclair is the Scouting Around columnist for the Cherokee Scout. You can reach her by email, firstname.lastname@example.org; fax, 837-5832; or by leaving a message in the office at 837-5122.