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Connecting with the greatest gift of Christmas


Last updated 11/29/2012 at Noon

Shirley Kinnick reads the list of contents for a Christmas tea gift basket, one of the many silent auction items that raised around $3,000 for Stonecroft Ministries.

Bountiful tables of gift baskets, art objects and fashion accessories greeted the ladies who attended the Fallbrook Women’s Connection’s only fundraiser of the year on Nov. 16. The Grand Tradition’s Crystal Ballroom also held a crowd of about 130 women, 30 of them first-timers who came with friends or relatives to bid on silent auction items and buy raffle tickets for smaller items.

The group’s monthly brunch usually features an inspirational guest speaker and some kind of entertainment. To allow time for the fundraising, this month’s program was presented by a guest who both spoke and sang.

Sauni Rinehart, a part-time English professor who also sings and gives talks, explained “The Greatest Gift at Christmas Time.” She started out by saying, “It is never too early to start Christmas,” and then told about her “nonnegotiable traditions.” She starts decorating her house the day after Thanksgiving with “boxes and boxes of decorations.”

Each decoration reminds her of family and friends as she puts them out; her Christmas tree skirt brings back memories of her grandmother who made it with needlepointed pictures of the 12 days of Christmas on it. Her rituals make her a “Christmas geek” Rinehart said. The whole first floor of her house gets decked out as a showcase for her lighted Victorian village, Nativity scene and decorated tree which includes 29 special ornaments representing each of the Christmases she and her husband have spent together.

She then talked about presents and stockings and told how she finally realized that “the real gift at Christmas is Jesus.” She told the story of Mary and then sang “Mary Did You Know?” which is one of her favorite Christmas songs. She added that “the true gift is the birth of that baby boy.” It was the baby who came as a gift from God to bridge the gap between creator and created (created by sin); “he grew up to pay that penalty that separates us from God.”

Rinehart encouraged the women to get a Bible and read the book of John, “talk to Jesus and learn about your relationship with him.”

Raffle ticket sellers Diane Rangel, left, and Rose Brown-Salek check out their bids at the silent auction table.

This year’s event raised more than last year’s total of $2,700, with the money going to Stonecroft Ministries, the national non-denominational Christian organization that sponsors the Women’s Connection group. Ginny Breier, the group’s current leader, explained that “a percentage [of funds raised] is kept here to help in Fallbrook.”

She said that money is used to help women come to the monthly brunches who wouldn’t otherwise be able to come as well as women’s outreach programs and Camp Pendleton ministries. The group has no dues or membership requirements. Next month’s brunch will be on Friday, Dec. 14 from 10 a.m. to noon. The guest speakers will by Miss Lillie Knauls, on “The Perfect Gift for Everyone on Your List,” and Dave Fenn who will share the joys of decorating for the Christmas season.

To reserve a spot, call Mary at (760) 723-1605, or Sheila at (760) 731-7025, or email


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