By STEVEN NALLEY
November may not have started yet, but Pam Hunt and others at First United Methodist Church are already preparing for Christmas.
On Thursday, they were busy cooking and freezing casseroles, and taking cakes out of the oven to cover them with icing Friday. Hunt said she believes those who feel it might be too early for Christmas will change their minds once they smell the cinnamon and pastries in the air.
It’s all part of FUMC’s preparation for the Christmas Handworks Bazaar, scheduled for Nov. 4 at the Christian Life Center.
A total of 34 vendors will be in attendance, 16 of whom are returning from last year’s bazaar, Hunt said. All vendors are required to sell either homemade goods or hand-embellished items, such as decorated picture frames or embroidered T-shirts.
“As a church, that’s part of demonstrating the God-given talents of the community,” Hunt said. “All of these things were made in Mississippi. We’ll have a couple of people who throw pottery; we’ll have children’s clothes; we’ll have people who make ceramic Christmas decorations.”
The bazaar, entering its sixth year, benefits Habitat for Humanity, and Hunt said it raised about $7,000 for the cause last year. Hunt said representatives from Habitat for Humanity will be at the event, along with one or more inhabitants from Habitat houses to meet the vendors.
“They will show a map of the houses that have been built,” Hunt said. “(The vendors) are told it’s to raise money for Habitat for Humanity, so it helps them to be able to meet some of the recipients.”
In addition to the vendors, the bazaar will also feature the Sweet Spirit Sandwich Shoppe and live entertainment, with Christmas songs from the children of FUMC’s Weekday Ministries and such local singers as Gloria Williams, Shirley Harper, Brian Hawkins, Ted Beverly and Sara Beth Sewell. FUMC members will also tend to vendors by loading and unloading their wares and bringing them coffee and snacks.
“(The vendors) refer to them as ‘elves,’” Hunt said. “By the time we get through, we have 100-150 members of the church in some way.”
Hunt said she was glad to have the bazaar coinciding with MSU’s 2011 Homecoming weekend, and not just for the sake of visitors.
“We’re trying to make sure the people who are coming for the football game on Friday have something to do,” Hunt said. “For the vendors, it was important to know it was a Mississippi State game day weekend. A lot of them are Mississippi State fans, too.”
The cakes and casseroles from FUMC will also each get their own booth at the bazaar. Beth Parsons, one of the cooks preparing cakes on Thursday, said it was very uplifting to be able to put her creativity on display for such a good cause.
“It’s a wonderful event,” Parsons said. “It’s something the whole community can get into.”
Nellah Taylor, another cook, said she worked at the bazaar about two years ago, but scheduling conflicts prevented her from rejoining the team until this year. Now, she said, she’s glad to have the chance to help Habitat for Humanity again.
“We’re awfully proud of that,” Taylor said. “We invite everybody to come. The cakes can be frozen for the holidays.”