Thumbprint ornaments are personal keepsakes

"I've been doing this very same thing since 1990 with a lot of good help," Wilma Kelly said.

Wilma Kelly is just one for the AT&T Telecom Pioneers who volunteers to make thumbprint ornaments for the Fantasy of Trees. They work together assembly line style.

"It takes about an hour per ornament by the time we select the ornament, paint it, string it, we pack it between wax paper in boxes," she explained.

Delivering 7,000 ornaments to the Knoxville Convention Center and selling them is the culmination of a year long process.

"We search for an ornament, we find something we think we can work with, we take it to my brother in law to see if he can cut it out," she said. "We select the design, we buy the paint, and we start painting," she said.

Painting and painting and painting.

Melinda Davis usually paints but this year she's a stringer for the featured round ornaments.

"It started out to be a snowman's face but we decided to do the design a little differently so it's a Christmas ball," Melinda Davis said.

A Christmas tree in their work area features ornaments from years past. Each design is different but every year they always feature a heart.

"We have just always used the heart on the ornaments. I guess it's a love thing," Wilma said.

Melinda said, "Now all of them have a heart because it's kind of like the heart of Pioneering and the heart of Children's hospital so they all have to have a heart incorporated in them."

The ornaments are almost finished. They will be complete only when someone buys one and adds the date and a thumbprint.

The ornaments sell for $2 each. The material and labor is donated so all the money goes to East Tennessee Children's Hospital.

"Plus it gives a memento to people so they can remember their children as they grow up. and something different every year so I think it's a really unique project," Melinda said.

The volunteers are already thinking ahead to next year when they hope to make an angel ornament.


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