WILKES-BARRE – The 109th Field Artillery Armory was filled with Christmas shoppers on Saturday afternoon working on their Christmas lists and raising funds for the Wyoming Valley chapter of the American Red Cross. More than 3,000 were expected to attend the organization's 19th Annual Holiday Craft Show Saturday and today, with more than 130 vendors exhibiting unique handmade gifts.
Santa and his elves were also on hand to review Christmas lists and share the holiday spirit with young attendees.
Michelle McDermott, Harding, was especially excited that original designs were available at the event. Toting two pieces of artwork, she said she planned knew just where to put them in her new home.
Many at the show said they were pleased their purchases benefited the Red Cross in light of recent area disasters.
Sherry Williams, executive director of the organization, credited volunteers with making the event possible.
Volunteers planned the event, chose appropriate vendors and even mapped out the floor plan, said Williams. Without them, this event would be impossible.
She lauded Edna Vivian, board member and volunteer coordinator, for a tremendous amount of hard work in preparation for the event.
Board member Robert Stanley said the show was the biggest fundraiser of the year and proceeds were solely directed to those within this area affected by disaster.
Stanley emphasized the organization assisted all people in peril, including those affected by area-wide weather events or by fire in their home.
Despite the noble purpose of the event, many of the vendors presented items that were fun and whimsical.
Sandy Newhart was selling holiday wreaths in a varied range of colors. The wreaths sported shiny Christmas balls and other fabrics that made them stand out. She describes her offering as formal traditional elegance.
Not simply seasonal red and green, said Newhart, one of my favorite Christmas items is done in purple.
Ruth Hassaj, Hunlock Creek, and Dolores Sckahke, Dallas, also thought outside the box, selling lighted sports-themed wine bottles and fabric Christmas trees with NFL logos.
Much of our product is recycled, said Hassaj, and we are really proud of that.
Handcrafted jewelry, home decor, sports items and clothing made it possible for people to buy for many of those on their Christmas list.
For hungry shoppers, food was available, including homemade kettle corn and hot chocolate.
The event will continue today from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Those in need or who wish to volunteer can contact the Red Cross at 823-7161.