Consistent with the festive season spirit, members of the Marco Island Woman’s Club gave and received at their annual Christmas luncheon at the Marco Island Yacht Club.

First, they gave $5,000 worth of gifts and toys to be distributed to the Shelter for Abused Women & Children, and on top of that member Marie Senechal donated handmade quilts valued at $2,400 for the Shelter.

Then, after enjoying herb seared filet of sole with capers, saffron rice and green beans (or vegetable lasagna for vegetarians), the club members sat back to enjoy a performance by young members of the Stewart Strings Advanced Performance Ensemble on violins and viola.

Among the pieces they played were “Silent Night,” “Deck the Halls” and a spirited version of “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” to round off the program, which drew a standing ovation from club members.

Ensemble director Joan Stewart, who joined teens Erin Ram, Nathaniel Spilker, Jade Gibson, Natalie Stewart, Sapphire Gibson and Laurel Brown (OK, she’s just 12), said the group has about 21 members, who tour and play at private functions. They vary between classical compositions (Bach, Vivaldi), to fiddle, blues, Latin, folk and pop.

“Many of our graduates have gone on to degrees in music,” Stewart told the Woman’s Club members. She said a 2014 tour to Bermuda is to be followed up by one to Calgary, Alberta in Canada in 2016.

In addition, she said, most of the violinists are members of the Naples Philharmonic Youth Orchestra or the Youth Symphonia.

The Woman’s Club was established in 1966 as a social and civic-minded organization strongly focused on causes that have included founding the city’s library, providing substantial scholarships for deserving local students, helping financially with the launch of the Marco Healthcare Center, donating to Meals of Hope, the US Coast Guard Auxiliary, the Alzheimer’s Association, the Center for the Arts, the Veteran’s Freedom Foundation Foundation and also promoting island beautification.

The Club also participates in regular beach clean-ups.

It raises the money to fulfill its pledges at monthly luncheons and fashion shows, and the ever-popular Elegant Home Tour that is open to all comers at $85 a ticket. The 2016 tour (which coincides with the club’s 50th Anniversary year) is set for March 8.

Donation and membership information is available at the club’s website,

To hire the Stewart Strings for a function, or do donate to their funds, call 398-6666, or e-mail them at

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