Tucked away in a dusty old garage, busy elves sort through boxes to prepare for the holidays. These elves don’t have funny ears or work at the North Pole, but they do have big hearts. Members of a Methodist women’s circle, the ladies collect odds-n-ends from yard sales and donations to create beautiful decorations.
A sputter of cold from an old window air-conditioning unit is as close to snow as the Florida workers get while they prepare for the bazaar. Volunteers gather in the shop affectionately dubbed the Craft Shack. Handwritten labels provide clues to the treasures contained within stacked plastic bins of all sizes. Leftover holly, garland, ribbon, and white silk florals await redemption in the hands of the artists.
From Thanksgiving table centerpieces to Christmas wreaths, all repurposed items are sold to raise money for various community missions. Outreach includes stocking a food pantry for the needy and funding shelter for the homeless. The idea for the venture began in 2014. “We started small and only had a few eight-foot tables to begin with,” said Pat Hering. “But we had a good response and grew.” Now the annual show fills an entire gymnasium with hundreds of items for sale. In 2022, close to $10,000 was raised to help others.
The operation has efficient collaboration. “One couple used to map out neighborhood yard sales every week and bring in amazing materials for us,” said Margaret Lay. A former commercial artist who designed magazine covers, she enjoys reimagining items that might otherwise be abandoned.
Sandy Gavil-Ries is new to the team. “I like learning how to make the arrangements from ladies who know what they are doing. We get ideas from each other.”
As one lady wandered in the tight space and seemed uncertain where to start, Lay coached, “Grab something and make something out of it.”
The easy fellowship is apparent. A volunteer walks around waving flashy red feathers she’s just discovered in a cardboard box while another wields a glue gun with authority. “We talk about what’s going on in our lives as we work,” Carol Lane said. “We share advice.”
They chatter back and forth. “Ooh, look at these! Aren’t they pretty?”
“Should I add or subtract anything?” Gavil-Ries asked for feedback about her silk arrangement. The others pause in their tasks to discuss if anything else is needed before the product is priced and stored on a shelf for the bazaar.
Andrea Beaver has been part of the group since its origin. She attends floral design classes regularly to get new ideas. “We’ve grown like a little family here,” she said about the volunteers.
The only downside they said is that they go home with glitter all over them. That and the hot glue leaves tiny threads along the masterpieces.
God’s economy makes the most of what’s at hand. At the Craft Shack, less becomes more. Much more.
Today’s Bible verse:
“I remain confident of this: I will see goodness of the Lord in the land of the living” (Psalm 27:13 NIV).
YouTube resource how to make a wreath: