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Inaugural Christmas Craft Fair offers variety of vendors, crafts

Handmade crafts, raffle prize drawings, and visits and photos with Santa and Mrs. Claus were just some of the activities that drew people to St. John’s United Church of Christ’s inaugural Christmas Craft Fair Saturday, Dec. 2.

With free entry, the event was designed to encourage people to get into the spirit of the holiday season.

“It seems very festive around here,” said Karalyn Schroeder, a member of St. John’s and one of the event’s organizers. “It’s fun. It’s a good time of year for this kind of thing.”

The event’s organizers put out advertisements through Facebook, buy/sell trade groups, and moms’ groups to attract potential vendors.

“We wanted a good variety,” Schroeder said. “We were really looking for a lot of homemade things, too.”

From knit hats and cookie dough to home décor furnishings and original greeting cards, there was a plethora of holiday items on display.

“[I was] hoping I’d find some gifts,” said Linda Zima, of Mokena.

Zima perused the various booths and decided to purchase some peppermint soap and a lavender vanilla hand scrub.

“These may be presents,” she said.

Zima said the fact that proceeds generated during the craft fair will benefit the church’s preschool makes attending the event all the more meaningful to her.

“It’s really nice know they’re supporting the preschoolers, “ she said. “Both of my kids went there.”

Proceeds generated during the Christmas Craft Fair are meant to help support the Mokena church’s preschool.

“We are working on some improvements to our preschool program in our building facilities, and this fundraiser is to help us mulch the playground outside,” Schroeder said.

St. John’s goal was to raise between $3,000 and $4,000.

If the church can generate additional funds, the preschool is in need of supplies for classrooms, tables and chairs, and new flooring.

Bonnie Carroll, another member of St. John’s, greeted patrons as they approached her booth full of original greeting cards.

“I’ve heard people make comments on the designs,” she said. “They’re really enjoying it.”

Carroll organizes a group at the Mokena church called Cards for a Cause by which people create original greeting cards in an effort to help support a cause.

Carroll set up a booth at the inaugural Christmas Craft Fair to showcase her passion for designing greeting cards.

“I enjoy it,” she said. “I’ve just always been kind of artsy, and I got introduced to card making probably about seven, eight years ago. Once I retired, that was it. It was like, ‘Okay, I’m going to do something with this, and I want to do something to serve the Lord.’ I’m loving every minute of it.”

Children also had their share of fun at the Christmas Craft Fair, with a station set up for kids’ crafts, as well as visits and photos with Santa and Mrs. Claus.

The event brought in a number of different vendors with a selection of different crafts.

“We had to cut it off at 24 vendors this year to see how it goes, and we’re going to see if we can squeeze in some more next year, but we had a lot of interest and we got 24 excellent vendors this year,” Schroeder said. “We’re trying something brand new. We’re trying to start something a little small with dreams to grow bigger next year.”

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