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Local nonprofits experience the sweet taste of success, thanks to lodging council's cookie tour

Holmes County Lodging Council chairperson Loretta Coblentz, center, presented Darla Stitzlein, executive director of Holmes County Education Foundation, and Kurt Holmes, director of LifeCare Hospice of Holmes and Wayne County, with checks from the proceeds of the 10th annual Christmas Cookie Tour held this past December.

Dave Mast

A pair of area nonprofit organizations experienced the sweet taste of success, thanks to the generosity of the Holmes County Lodging Council.
The HCLC’s 10th annual Christmas Cookie Tour of Inns was held this past December. The tour enables patrons to travel to a variety of area lodging facilities to sample each one’s special homemade cookies and to patronize with the lodging owners and staff. But the driving purpose behind the event is to raise money for area charities, and this year the council provided a large amount to a pair of local organizations.
The council gathered at Comfort Suites in Berlin on Wednesday, Feb. 21 to present the Holmes County Education Foundation and LifeCare Hospice of Holmes and Wayne County with checks stemming from the fundraising cookie tour that totaled close to $30,000.
“I thank the owners and managers of our properties for their dedication and creativity in sponsoring the tour,” said Loretta Coblentz, chairperson for the Amish Country Lodging Council. “Each year I am awed and humbled by the generosity of our inns, volunteers and many tour-goers who visit from all across Ohio and beyond who support the tour.”
This year’s net proceeds were an impressive $27,456.62. Added to the former nine years brings the charitable donations for the event to an incredible $144,795.90.
Coblentz said the amount comes as a surprise, based on the humble beginnings of the tour that saw that first year raise just more than $500.
Those humble beginnings arose when Coblentz, then owner of The Barn Inn, and Bill Jenkins, who was operating The Inn at Honey Run, came up with the idea of hosting a tour.
The idea of showcasing the various festive inns, lights, Amish Country scenery, fellowship and cookies became a reality in 2008. Coblentz said the purpose of the event initially was three-fold, and it has been ever since.
“We wanted to provide a holiday contribution to a local, worthy charity to increase the visibility of the Amish Country Lodging Council and to increase the value of the lodging industry among local citizens,” Coblentz said.
That first year in 2008 the council sold 140 tickets, and she said they felt it was a big success, considering they had only come up with the idea in September of that year. Additional funds were kicked into the coffer, and the council presented Holmes County Hospice with a check for $1,030.
Next year they sold 476 tickets, and since then it has grown from a one-day event into a two-day spectacle that this year saw them sell 1,151 two-day tickets that allowed patrons to visit the inns on both days.
“The two-day ticket idea became an instant benefit for everyone involved. Not only did it allow patrons to enjoy the inns twice, but also it was beneficial for the council and its members. The two-day tickets resulted in greater visitor enjoyment, more overnight stays for our inns and more shopping opportunities for our out-of-town patrons,” Coblentz said.
The first check presentation was to the Holmes County Education Foundation. The council has been working with HCEF for the past four years to develop enough funds to create an endowment fund, and this year’s contribution of $10,795.90 will allow HCEF to begin presenting scholarships through the gift.
It took the past three years to create enough funds to begin the endowment fund, and the council continues to give, and through their generosity area Holmes County students attending a facility of higher education will benefit through scholarships.
“I am astounded every year with how many people attend the cookie tour, and we are very grateful for the lodging council to consider us worthy of being a recipient and their generosity,” said Darla Stitzlein, executive director at HCEF. “This is the fourth time they have used some of the funds for the creation and endowment of a scholarship. This will be the first year that we will have a recipient, so we are currently taking applications from students from either Holmes County high schools or a Holmes County resident who wants to go into the hospitality field or a related field of study. We are very excited to be selecting a student as our first recipient.”
Students applying for the scholarship will have until April 13 to apply for the $500 scholarship. Anyone wishing to apply may do so by logging on to the HCEF website at www.hcef.net.
The second check of $16,473.97 was presented to Kurt Holmes, director of LifeCare Hospice of Holmes and Wayne County. Those funds will help provide care for families unable to afford the complete cost of hospice, which provides care for those facing life-limiting illnesses.
“I am profoundly humbled in my job every day because other people make what we do possible,” Holmes said. “When events like this occur, you all organize it, you put our name out there and then give us money to put into service. That is the best job in the world to see that kind of support. I think it really speaks to the partnership we try to have in those communities. These kinds of joint connections show that we are all committed to serving the community. Donations like these allow us to go above and beyond at a very critical time in people’s lives.”
Next year’s cookie tour, titled Christmas of Yesteryear, is slated for Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 8-9 and will again feature area lodging businesses showcasing everything that is inviting and warm and quite tasty about the council’s willingness and desire to present all area inns and lodging facilities in a generous and inviting light.
“When we first started this tour, we never in our wildest dreams thought it would become what it is today,” Coblentz said. "We are excited about the future of the tour and are continuing to think about how we can help it grow to become even bigger, and we are grateful that we can connect with some pretty incredible charitable organizations, like the Holmes County Education Foundation and Hospice, that play such a huge role in our community.”

Published: February 27, 2018
New Article ID: 2018180229951