OCEAN CITY, Md. – Like many parish fundraisers, the Holy Savior parish Christmas Bazaar always includes lots of volunteers, plenty of preparation and some exhausted people when their several days of working the tables is over.
It’s always worthwhile, both for customers who find unique gifts, decorations and treats, and for the parish as an important fundraiser.
“The thing that you think of when you think of the Christmas bazaars is just family. It’s people coming together,” said Donna Santoni, Holy Savior’s administrative assistant.
But what about in a COVID-19 environment?
For Holy Savior, it moves online as a virtual “Christmas Bazaar” amidst the pandemic.
Normally a huge two-day event, the bazaar is now currently operating from an open Facebook page. Items that have been donated from people and various local businesses are posted with a picture and a description. Interested buyers can then comment that they would like the item. From there, it is marked as “sold,” and can then be picked up and paid for.
Some of the items for sale include handmade jewelry, throw pillows, a variety of dishes, and even a vintage denim jacket in great condition. They hold silent auctions as well on baskets overflowing with food, gift cards, jewelry, and other goodies.
This is all a big change for the parish. At first, organizers were not sure how to make the bazaar work. For the past 65 years, the event has occurred the Friday and Saturday before Thanksgiving, each room transformed into its own gift shop by the hard-working volunteers.
“They’re tired, they’re exhausted, and they’re laughing,” Santoni said of volunteers in years past. “The one thing that you miss the most is the laughter.”
The virtual bazaar has been open since September and will be up until every last item is sold. Even though things are different this year, like many of us, Holy Savior is finding a way to make it work.
Their open Facebook group is “2020 Ocean City, MD Holy Savior Christmas Bazaar,” and all proceeds go to support the parish.
Other parishes joining in on the virtual bazaar experience are St. Benedict of Ridgley, Md., and Immaculate Conception of Elkton, Md. St. Benedict is planning to have a “Bazaar from Afar,” to take the place of their usual in-person event. Dates are still being determined, but they are hoping to start early November. An online auction and carry out food items will be included as part of the virtual bazaar.
Immaculate Conception will open up a web page that can be accessed off of their parish website, as well as a public Facebook group. In addition to the items that will be for sale, there will also be raffles, an order only bake sale, and a virtual book nook where gently used books can be purchased. Its event is Nov. 1-30.
Is your parish hosting a Christmas bazaar? Please send details to firstname.lastname@example.org