Just as we put away the decorations from Halloween, we start seeing the telltale signs of Christmas. Some stores in Fresno had their decorations up for sale just after Labor Day, but here in the mountains, our merchants keep the season a little shorter.
The churches in the area have been at work for most, if not all the rest of the year since last Christmas, creating their wonderful handmade items for us to purchase. Last week in YLP the local church started off the season with their sale. This weekend a number of church groups will be open for business.
The ladies of Martha’s Market who are an integral part of Christ Church, Anglican will have their boutique at ECCO on Highway 41 just above Sky Ranch Road. I love being able to wander through and find handmade stuff for gifts that I may present to my friends and relatives. The receivers always enjoy getting something homemade.
Area artist, Phyllis McAdams has teamed with the Martha’s Market wood master, John vanDeursen, to create wooden masterpieces that have original art painted on the lids on trays. OMG as the texters would say. Hand sewn items and knitted items are available at nominal rates.
The ladies of the Roman Catholic Church always have a boutique and Carol loves to go shopping there, as well. I especially enjoy buying my See’s Candy from them. It seems less sinful if you buy chocolates from a church lady. The churches in Ahwahnee and North Fork don’t want to be forgotten either, so I suggest that you each read through the pages of the Sierra Star to find the locations where you and I may buy and buy and buy.
It’s important that we support these groups for a number of reasons. First, those ladies have the fellowship with one another as they create our items. That fellowship creates a positive aura and that aura is absorbed by our items. Secondly, the profits from those sales go to area charities.
Last year Martha’s Market alone donated to Toys for Tots, Oakhurst Elementary School, Scouts, Senior Center projects, Children’s Museum, Mariposa High School Band, Manna House and other area groups. The other churches do the same, but they can’t donate to those area charities if we don’t buy. So go on, buy and buy.
While we are out and about, we are going to see and hear the bell ringers at Grocery Outlet, Vons, and Raley’s. All the proceeds go to support Manna House. The Mountain Area churches have teamed together and agreed to cover shifts at each of those sites. Drop in a buck or two or your change. I do two shifts and have a blast greeting many neighbors and watching as the money is offered.
I know we get hit each time and if you gave the last time you walked by, I understand. However, I really do prefer seeing cash going into the bucket or house. So just carry an extra few dollars and every time you hear the bell, drop off some Christmas cheer for those less fortunate than we are.
I think many would be very shocked to know the level of poverty in our spot along the road - those who are hungry - and most of us can afford to help feed them. Manna House runs a tight ship and controls the giving so the food is used as an assist and not a way of life. The kids in those impoverished homes are hungry and we can change that.
Last year while I stood outside Grocery Outlet on a very cold and windy day, very few were dropping in any money. As my two-hour shift was coming to an end, a lady came by and she did not look overly prosperous, but she handed me a hundred dollar bill. She simply said, “I’ve been there.” That lady displayed the love and joy of the season and the act told in the Bible, “The King will reply, ‘truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for Me.’”
So on Saturday, I’ll see you at Martha’s Market, and maybe, outside a market with my bell in hand and silly Christmas hat atop my head.