Lucie Lehmann, Contributor
’Tis the season of giving back, and a Charlotte artist, Alexandra Lehmann, has once again used her talents to create something beautiful and jolly — this time, a whimsical winter scene on a restored children’s sled — that will be raffled off and go to a new home, all to benefit two local food pantries.
This is the fourth time that Lehmann, who grew up in New York but spent much of her life in her parents’ native country, Switzerland, before settling in Charlotte 22 years ago, has created a work of art to be raffled with the proceeds going to a local non-profit.
“It all began 10 years ago with a fairy house that my friend Ted Roberts and I created at the monument garden outside the Old Brick Store, which turned into an impromptu raffle when so many people wanted to buy it,” the slender and shy 67-year-old said. “That raised $2,000 for COTS that year, and it lit a spark of possibility that something creative could attract people’s interest enough to buy a raffle ticket.”
Popularly known as COTS, the Committee on Temporary Shelter advocates for long-term solutions to end homelessness and provides emergency shelter, services and long-term housing for Vermonters who are experiencing homelessness or are marginally housed, according to its website.
Between now and Dec. 20, the restored, cobalt-blue children’s sled is on display at Village Wine and Coffee at 5288 Shelburne Road in Shelburne. Interested people can purchase a raffle ticket for $5 and enter a drawing to win the sled and take it home for the holidays.
Cash or checks are the only forms of payment being accepted, and the raffle is being run on the honor system. There is a payment box under the sled, as well as a tin in which to deposit the filled-out raffle stubs. Checks can be made out to either the Charlotte or Shelburne food shelf. The proceeds will be equally divided between the two food pantries.
“She’s been a customer pretty much since we’ve opened, and she’s also donating all of the proceeds to the local food shelves, which is the most important,” said Kevin Clayton, owner of Village Wine and Coffee, which regularly showcases local artists. “Most people don’t understand how much food insecurity there is around here.”
Lehmann said, “I like to find an unusual, found object that I can turn into a creative project that will then offer a raffle potential.”
A graduate of Columbia University with a degree in history, Lehmann finds inspiration in nature and loves working with her hands. For years, she created and maintained four seasonal displays around the World War I monument in Charlotte, before Roberts and his wife, Beth Sytsma, eventually took it over.
“Having always loved anything creative, from carving soap bars as a child to working in fused glass and textiles, if my hands can make it, I love it and I’m always engaged. I find it thrilling that you can make something beautiful out of simple objects and that they then go out into the larger world for someone’s enjoyment.”
This is the second sled that Lehmann has restored and raffled off. She found this one by the side of Lewis Creek Road, all rusted and with the paint mostly gone. Over several weeks she took the sled apart, stripped, sanded, reassembled, painted and then added the forest scene that covers most of the sled’s surface. Finally, she varnished it to protect the antique, which she estimates is at least 60 years old.
It would make a wonderful seasonal display on a covered porch or under a Christmas tree; however, she doesn’t recommend using it in the snow.
Lehmann hopes the Shelburne and Charlotte communities will rally for the local food shelves by supporting this raffle and raising several thousand dollars to help neighbors in need. “I’m grateful to Kevin and his great community spirit, which is allowing me to showcase the blue sled in a favorite community setting.”
Clayton will pick the winning ticket on Dec. 20 at 3:45 p.m.
(Lucie Lehmann is the artistically challenged sister of Alexandra Lehmann, as well as her biggest fan. Village Wine and Coffee is open Monday-Saturday from 8 a.m.-4 p.m.)