“Those donations are going to make an impact. It’s a blessing because that’s the best gift to get.”
JENNIE McKEON @JennieMnwfdn
FORT WALTON BEACH — Gift giving never felt so good.
Fort Walton Beach First United Methodist Church will host its third annual gift market next week, featuring fair trade vendors and local craft makers. All the items are unique and all of the proceeds go to a good cause.
The idea for the gift market came from a conversation between church members and their pastor. Co-chairs Sharon Lopez and Denise Whited started reaching out to organizations and local crafters to create an experience unlike other markets that pop up around the holidays.
Shoppers can peruse tables featuring everything from fair trade coffee from Peru, jewelry handcrafted in India, Christmas ornaments and more. Church members man the booths from each organization and the proceeds are then sent back.
“We have one organization, Rahab’s Rope, that helps women who are victims of human trafficking in India,” Whited said. “They make beautiful jewelry. … I love that it’s not a handout but a hand up. It’s a gift you get to give twice.”
Heiffer International is another global organization recognized at the market. The nonprofit works to end world poverty through sustainability. Unlike other booths, there is no tangible gift to purchase. Instead, you can provide a family with a flock of chickens or a llama in someone’s name. A card is then made out to the gift recipient.
“It’s the perfect gift for someone who has everything,” Whited said.
Refuge for Women Emerald Coast, Catholic Charities, SERRV and Equal Exchange are among some of the other organizations the market features.
Whited said there’s no shortage of help among church members when it comes to the gift market. Alongside the market there will be a bake sale with donations going to Operation Christmas Child.
As much fun as it is to plan and prepare, Whited said her favorite part of the market is the end.
“When we have all the tally sheets and see the amounts we’ve raised, that feels good,” she said. “Those donations are going to make an impact. It’s a blessing because that’s the best gift to get.”
The gift market is Saturday, Nov. 11, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Fort Walton Beach First United Methodist Church at 103 First St. S.E.