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Giving Tree is ‘Filling the Bucket’ and their seats

By Deirdre Ryan, Marion Times | December 17th, 2015 |

For the first time, Uptown Marion decided to hold a “Fill the Bucket” competition with a multitude of area businesses willing to participate. These retail shops decorated their windows, walls, offices, and more, eagerly displaying the sights and sounds of the holidays.From there, customers and patrons could “vote” for their favorite venue by donating dollars by “filling the bucket” displayed in the participating store.

For the inaugural year, 14 Marion businesses that joined in the fun; Alley Gallery, Marion Cost Cutters, Giving Tree Theater, Kettel House Bakery, Lillians of Marion, Marion Maid Rite, Marion Times, Philip’s Diamond Shop, Ramsey’s Wine Bistro, Stitch Together, THE Chocolate Shop, Treasure Chest Collectibles, Village Needlework and Wit’s End Coffeehouse.

The “Fill the Bucket” challenge began on Small Business Saturday (November 28) and ended on Saturday, December 5. The idea was presented to the Uptown Marion group by some of the area businesses as a way to promote local holiday shopping in Marion, especially during the Peppermint Walk (Friday, December 4).

“I loved that this idea was thought up by the businesses themselves,” noted Ashley Zierath, the Program Director for Uptown Marion. “There was even some fun, light-hearted rivalry between a few businesses on who they thought would raise the most.”

After the two-week contest was completed, Zierath collected all of the red and white striped holiday buckets and totaled the donations. In the end, it was pretty close … the winner was the Giving Tree Theater, with THE Chocolate Shop coming in a very near second. All together, about $210 was raised to go towards the Uptown Marion District.

“These proceeds will benefit the Uptown Marion Main Street by allowing us to implement more projects and programming that support our mission of driving continued revitalization, growth, and preservation of historic character through appropriate design, promotion, and economic strategies that improve our community,” commented Zierath.

Although the “Fill the Bucket” win was very close, Richie Akers, Owner of The Giving Tree Theater, was very surprised and honored that they won.

“In the past two weekends, we have had over 800 people through our doors,” said Akers. “This contest was putting the money toward the greater good and Uptown. There was some competitive nature, and this helped keep things looking great for the holidays … this builds a community of businesses.”

Akers noted he enjoys participating in the various Uptown Marion events, as they have been so helpful to the theater.

“Mainstreet Uptown is important – they played a part in us coming here,” said Akers. “It’s nice that there is a group leading the way … this is an ideal neighborhood; we didn’t expect that when we opened our doors. We’re a tight unit and we’re helping each other.”

The most recent Giving Tree Theater show in house was “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever,” and Akers noted attendance for the performances has been incredible. This production actually wrapped up Sunday, December 13, and many of the weekend shows had sold-out tickets!

Next on the Giving Tree docket is “Wit,” beginning on Friday, January 1, and wrapping up on Sunday, January 10. Showtimes are Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., with a Sunday matinee at 2 p.m.

Following “Wit” is a play entitled “Harvey.” This show will begin on Friday, January 29, 2016, and will finish up on Valentine’s Day 2016.

Akers noted the first performance of “Harvey” (Friday, January 29, 2016) will be a special event, as it marks one year since the Giving Tree Theater opened their doors to the public.

For more information or tickets, contact Giving Tree Theater at 319-213-7956, 752 10th Street in Marion, or

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