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Handcrafted Items Add Unique Flavor to SBL Holiday Festival

November 2, 2021 9:21 a.m.

  • holiday festival, lamp, lauer
  • holiday festival, lamp, lauer
  • holiday festival, lamp, lauer
  • holiday festival, lamp, lauer
holiday festival, lamp, lauer holiday festival, lamp, lauer holiday festival, lamp, lauer holiday festival, lamp, lauer

Some people think preparing for Christmas in October is early. Well, SBL Psychiatrist John Lauer, MD, began crafting his wooden lamps for Sarah Bush Lincoln’s Holiday Festival in April.

While he doesn’t sell his art, Dr. Lauer has donated numerous items to Sarah Bush Lincoln’s most anticipated fundraiser. In 2010, he created a whole tree of handcrafted wooden ornaments for the Festival of Trees. Then in 2018, Dr. Lauer donated one of his infamous lamps, which raised $2,000 to support the Regional Cancer Center. Woodworking has become one of his great prides, an interesting feat for someone who grew up in a household with no tools. In high school, he had to choose Spanish over woodworking class to get into medical school. Shortly after, Dr. Lauer began to self-teach himself through magazine articles and trial and error. He has now spent more than 40 years perfecting his craft.

“I use my woodworking skills a lot more than my Spanish skills. I remember my first project included making my mom a nativity scene with a kid saw, rock, and used nails,” Dr. Lauer joked.

Now, Dr. Lauer has his own workshop filled with a great selection of tools. He alludes the shop to a hardware store with drawers filled with different drill bits, nuts, dowels, polyurethane, and glue. His wife enjoys quilting, so the pair takes trips to antique fairs to acquire wood and quilting materials. He has even purchased wood from colleagues who had leftover timber in their sheds.

This year, Dr. Lauer created two lamps made of zebra wood, eucalyptus, maple, and mahogany, among other types of wood. The measuring, gluing, and wood shaping took months to accomplish. He starts his projects with a loose plan, but he always intends to create something unique.

“My work always has to be different from previous projects. Sometimes I will even challenge myself to make my projects entirely out of wood, rather than use some metal pieces. Woodworking is very therapeutic to me,” Dr. Lauer explained.

Since the Holiday Festival is virtual again this year, one of the Lauer lamps will be available during the Live Auction Event, which is being held in place of its annual Gala. The event features 13 elite items, which will be available for bid starting at 8 am on Friday, November 12, with final bids taken during the Live Auction Event from 6 to 7 pm on Sunday, November 14. For a $100 chance, one lucky winner can choose any one of the Live Auction items as their prize. The other lamp will be available during the Silent Auction which opens at 8 am on Wednesday, November 10.

Net proceeds from this year’s Holiday Festival will support an endowment for the new SBL Hospice House, which will be a warm and inviting 14,470-square-foot facility complete with eight private suites, a family gathering space, beautiful landscaping and more to help make patients’ last days as comfortable as possible. Funds raised will help those with limited resources pay for their stay. It will be the first, fully dedicated inpatient hospice house in East Central Illinois.

Kim Lockart, SBL Health Foundation Special Events Officer, said, “While we wish we could host the event in person this year, the safety of the community comes first. Many of the wonderful goods being sold have ornate details that can be missed in photos. However, we still plan to bring Comfort and Joy to people’s lives by hosting both a silent and live auction filled with shiny, eye-catching Christmas items and fun-filled packages.”

Christmas has always been a very special and busy time for Dr. Lauer, as the son of a priest. As a psychiatrist, he understands the importance of keeping families together during end-of-life care. The Sarah Bush Lincoln Hospice House will offer dignity and comfort to people in the end stages of terminal illnesses, while supporting families and individuals as they celebrate their loved ones’ lives and lovingly support them through their final passage.

“The holidays were always hectic, but also a time when we did a lot of things together. I have always loved Christmas. The Holiday Festival offers me an opportunity to give back to meaningful programs, such as the SBL Hospice House. People seem to like my work, so this is my chance to share it since I don’t sell my creations,” Dr. Lauer added.

Tickets to bid during the Live Auction Event are $50 and can be purchased on the auction website or by calling the SBL Health Foundation at 217 258-2511. For more information about the Holiday Festival, contact Kim Lockart, Special Events Officer, at 217-258-2511 or go to


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