PLATTSBURGH — For more than a half-century, the Presbyterian Women here have hosted the Christmas Tea and Bazaar.
The group really knows how to throw a fundraiser.
"We work all year on it, we really do," said Jennie Booth, who co-chairs the event with Linda Voss. "In January, we have a meeting to discuss what went well, what didn't. People work on crafts in the winter months, knit things like mittens and hats."
In autumn, efforts ramp up to collect donations for the white elephant table and other themed tables. A few weeks ago, men of the church cut boughs for wreaths they make for their annual sale and also for the bazaar.
"It's all volunteer," Booth said. "So many people donate baked goods and crafts, we don't have any costs at all."
So 100 percent of the take this Saturday in First Presbyterian Church's Fellowship Hall will go to missions supported by the women's group.
Those causes include Family Promise, which serves the homeless in Clinton County, and the Interfaith Food Shelf in Plattsburgh. Some funds will go to Mzuzu Crisis Nursery in Malawi, where former pastor the Rev. Paul Heller and his wife, Darlene, have worked for going on three years to save the lives of young children in desperate need.
The church underwrites the Hellers' pay and follows the couple's work with great interest.
"It really lit a fire under a lot of people," Booth said of the Hellers' three-year commitment to the African nursery.
TEA, SOUP, QUICHE
"We're very mission oriented. A lot of people have been very passionate about it."
The Tea and Bazaar does, of course, feature a tea table with coffee, tea, small sandwiches and cookies. Folks can eat a more hearty lunch at the deli, where home-made soup, quiche and other items are on the menu.
"You can buy a bowl of soup to eat right now or a quart to take home," Booth said.
Also for sale are baked goods, crafts, gently used holiday decorations, hand-made mittens and other apparel ...
Professional potter Jackie Curilla has donated some of her works; Susan Smith has sewn American Girl Doll clothing that's "absolutely gorgeous," Booth said. Smith's mother, Meg, is one of the knitters, and Sara Black gives note cards she has created, while Janora Stone makes jewelry.
Even the children do their part — the Cherub and Crusader choirs will entertain at 2 p.m.
"We have a talented congregation. It really is a church-wide event — everyone participates. I wish I could name all 300 (church members)."
There's also a table loaded with used books.
"Of course, the prices are really good there.
The Tea and Bazaar is the biggest fundraiser put on by the Presbyterian Women, but they also head the effort for many others year to year.
One is an auction with the talents of congregation members up for grabs.
"That's one that's fun," Booth said. "We all donate something we do well," for example lessons paddling a kayak or canning fruits and veggies.
The women filled 41 shoeboxes with school supplies, toys and other goodies for Operation Christmas Child this year.
And another church-wide initiative, 3 Cents a Meal, has proved terrifically successful. At every meal, everyone is asked to put 3 cents aside to donate to the Food Shelf.
In 11 months, the congregation has contributed $1,397, Booth said.
"With still a month to go!"
The women are delighted to have the men pitching in with wreaths for the bazaar, she continued. Stuart Voss, who coordinates that project, continues crafting wreaths in his garage after wreath-making day at the church.
"They actually bring in 35 percent of the donations with the wreaths," she said.
Last year, the event brought in more than $8,000.
Even so, can visitors expect to find some excellent deals at the bazaar—
"Absolutely," Booth said.
E-mail Suzanne Moore at: firstname.lastname@example.org