CEDAR LAKE – Savvy shoppers found their way to Holy Name of Jesus on Aug. 12 as the parish hosted its first-ever Local Market event as a fundraiser for its ministries.
“It was Cindy Varenkamp’s idea to do this market instead of having little fundraisers for each ministry,” said co-chair Regina Biel, who served with Rose Marsh. “I was very nervous about getting enough (outside) vendors to blend with the Crafting with a Purpose Ministry from the church, which offered a variety of handmade crafts and home-baked cookies, but we added three new vendors just this week.
“They were happy to know we were holding the market inside our air conditioned gym, and that turned out to be a good idea because of the rain this morning,” Biel added.
Varenkamp, Holy Name’s music ministry/parish mission facilitator, said wrapping fundraising efforts into one big event “would bring them outside of the parish and out into the community.” Rather than a church bake sale that offers goods made and donated by parishioners and sold to other parishioners, the market opened the fundraising up to include the public.
“It is also a way to promote local businesses and our ministerial $10,000 grand raffle,” she added.
Participating in the Local Market from Holy Name were the Crafting with a Purpose Ministry, which offered jewelry and craft items and baked and sold 1,008 gourmet cookies, the Health and Safety Committee, which offered free blood pressure testing, the Youth and Young Adults Ministry held a used book sale, the Parish Life Committee sold tickets to an Aug. 20 chicken dinner, and the Hispanic Ministry operated a food booth. All proceeds benefited parish programs.
In addition, outside vendors paid $25 to rent a booth, offering shoppers plenty of variety, from flavored popcorn from Kelly’s Kernels in Cedar Lake to fancy birdhouses made by hand by Bill Pintsak of Crown Point.
In fact, Pintsak has a wealth of knowledge about birds and their nesting habits, and can customize his birdhouses to attract a specific breed. “I can size the hole for a certain kind of bird and ensure you will get a nester,” he said. His whimsical designs and sturdy construction lead many buyers to bring the houses in for the winter and use the “trapdoor” to clean them thoroughly before returning them outdoors the following spring.
“They are sized for the female of the species – from beak to tail, since she needs room to turn the eggs three times a day. There’s a double roof on each birdhouse, and they are put together with glue, and then fastened with screws,” Pintsak explained.
As she greeted customers and showed them her handmade greeting cards, Laura Guzman, of Hammond, enjoyed the market crowd. “Business has been steady, and you get to meet a lot of people,” she said.
“I got my blood pressure checked, bought two raffle tickets and some cookies, and I’m helping the parish and the community,” said shopper Father Tony Janik, OFM, chaplain at Franciscan Health in Crown Point, before he sat down to have lunch.
“I think it’s going spectacularly,” added Varenkamp. “We have over 40 vendors and the parish Fundraising Committee is thrilled, because they sold 20 raffle tickets in just the first two hours. I believe it will become an annual event – when he came by this morning, Father Patrick (Gawrylewski), our pastor, called it ‘your first one,’ so I guess he’s expecting more.”
Biel said it “might be beneficial to move the market nearer to the (Christmas) holidays, but we’ll have to discuss it.” She suggested other parishes that consider hosting a similar event start with a committee of 8-12 people dedicated just to the market, and start meeting 6-8 months in advance to plan. “You definitely need more than two people,” she added with a knowing glance toward her co-chair.
Most shoppers said the signs on the church campus drew them in, while others mentioned the church bulletin, announcements at Mass, and newspaper publicity. “We tried to publicize it any way we could,” Biel noted. “We even handed out flyers at the St. John farmer’s Market last May to attract vendors.”
Debbie Lewandowski, a Holy Name parishioner and member of the Crafting with a Purpose Ministry, was happy to be stationed at the group’s jewelry booth. “We started out as the Prayer Shawl Ministry, making and giving out prayer shawls to people who needed them, and then expanded to make all kinds of crafts – sewing, crocheting, quilting and others,” she said.
“I think this market is wonderful, with all the different organizations together,” Lewandowski added. “Every single penny is going to charity.”
Caption: Friends Rosemary Swank (left) and Meredith Babcock, both of Lowell, head to their car with their purchases after visiting the Holy Name Local Market on Aug. 12 in Cedar Lake. Babcock, a parishioner, bought books and jewelry and praised the "friendly atmosphere" at the fundraiser for parish ministries, a first-time event that will likely become annual. (Marlene A. Zloza photo)