Giving Gazebo shares warmth

Kathryn SwanJ-C Correspondent

The idea for Pawhuska’s “Giving Gazebo” began on Dec. 16 when Pawhuska resident Leeanna Boe saw a Facebook posting where a group of Norman residents got together to hang coats, gloves and scarves on trees in a local park. The group wanted to do something for area residents needing warmth with the approaching cold winter months. They named their mission “Giving Trees.”

“I thought this was an awesome and kind idea,” said Boe. “Every now and then, someone needs a little help (stranger or not). I shared the post on the Pawhuska Community Watch page, commenting how Pawhuska should do something similar, possibly at the gazebo on Lynn Avenue (north of the Historical Society Museum) and call it the ‘Giving Gazebo.’ I felt this was a public place where anyone could drop off donations at their leisure and recipients could pick up items without feeling embarrassed.

“Followers of the Community Watch page seemed excited about the ‘Giving Gazebo’ idea and willing to help. Before we could launch our project, I contacted City Hall to be sure we could use the gazebo for this mission. Not only did the City say yes, they agreed the ‘Giving Gazebo’ was a great concept!”

Boe said at first she began hanging jackets out where they would be visible from the road to alert people that coats were available.

“I didn’t like the idea of people having to dig through big black trash bags to see what was available. I also didn’t like the idea of clothing getting rained on. I’m still looking for that perfect way to display them.

“Most recently a donor suggested drawing the community into this project by having youth groups or churches decorate boxes that would hold specific items, possibly one for coats, another for hats, gloves & scarves, etc. This would keep things dry, separated, and easy to look through without stringing things all over the place. Anyone interested in tackling this project can contact me via Facebook.”

Because the gazebo is not monitored 24/7, Boe isn’t sure what has been donated and what has been picked up. Some donors post on Facebook when they are leaving items. Boe, along with several volunteers, monitor daily activity to see if something needs to be addressed. A small, hand-written sign, posted on the gazebo’s banister, outlines “courtesy rules” about giving and taking since this project was intended to benefit all people and residents should only take what is needed so that more can benefit.

“I estimate at least 100 coats, jackets, hats and scarves (along with winter shirts and boots) have been donated so far,” continued Boe. “Community support has been unbelievable and has extended beyond Pawhuska. Lora Jean Frey of Hominy’s Dividing Bread Ministry has been a major contributor, donating between 40-50 jackets. “Lora sells items and uses the proceeds to help purchase food for those in need. If anyone has items they wish to get rid of, please think about donating them to Dividing Bread Ministry. This is a great ministry, doing wonderful work! Their contact number is 918-729-9019.”

“When Kathryn Swan told me how the gazebo was actually the ‘Janet Theis Holcombe Bandstand,’ I thought how appropriate that it was named after someone who gave so much to Pawhuska. Now, as the ‘Giving Gazebo,’ her legacy is once again giving back to the community.

“I believe the success of this project is that people are able to ‘shop’ in somewhat privacy. I have driven by and seen families with several children trying on and picking out coats. This makes me so happy! Several people have messaged me, saying ‘thank you’ for coats (and that) they wouldn’t have one if it wasn’t for the ‘Giving Gazebo.’

“I know some people have probably taken advantage of it; but, if we were able to help just one family, our efforts are worth it! As a life-long Pawhuskan, I love this town and want to make it the best it can be and preserve the small-town family feel where we all help one another whenever needed. God bless the people of Pawhuska and Osage County.”

Boe said with the overwhelming response to the “Giving Gazebo” idea, she would like to see the project continue throughout the cold winter months. “I would also like to see if the City would allow something similar after the cold weather is gone,” said Boe. “Maybe something our community could use during the summer months. I’m not sure what the need would be. For now, we will just work on keeping our little community warm.”

For more information about the “Giving Gazebo,” you may contact Leeanna Boe on Facebook.

More about the Giving Gazebo

The “Giving Gazebo’s” actual name is “The Janet Theis Holcombe Community Bandstand.” The bandstand was built by PHS Vocational Educational Instructor Greg Spencer and his students in the early 1980s. Spencer’s group would ultimately take up the massive challenge of restoring the historic Constantine Center.

In 1990, the bandstand was dedicated by the City of Pawhuska and Mayor Dave Landrum to honor Janet for her dedication and community service to Pawhuska.

Janet served on the Pawhuska City Council from 1987 to 1990 and served as Mayor 1989 to 1990. She was a 1984, 1986 and 1987 recipient of the Pawhuska Chamber’s Good Citizen Award and leader of the 1984 nonprofit Pawhuska Downtown Revitalization and Preservation Association.

In the 1986, Janet undertook the task of restoring the long-neglected and decaying Kihekah (Constantine) Theater in downtown Pawhuska. Through her leadership, the theater was restored as a viable and historical structure that continues to provide a venue for the performing arts. Following an extended illness, this heroic wife, mother and civic leader died peacefully at her Pawhuska residence on Jan. 8, 2013.