By Debbie Knowles, Christian House Baptist Chapel, Aliquippa, Pa.
In November Christian House held its first Blessing Bazaar, and it truly was a blessing. The event had several purposes:
- to share the love of Christ with our community (every household was given a new Bible and list of our ministries)
- to offer free Christmas shopping of gently used gift items to those struggling financially this holiday season
- to re-launch our Blessings Boutique (Clothes Closet) that had been dormant since the pandemic
- to bless local ministries with the remaining gifts
- to provide a hands-on opportunity for our entire congregation to reach out.
God birthed the idea in the hearts of Pastor Tom Knowles, Women’s Ministry Director Crystal Brandon, and me (Debbie Knowles) as we made the 3.5 hour trek to BRN’s Accelerate Conference in October.
After loads of prayer, we pitched the idea to our Christian House family and the excitement grew. Here are some bullet points:
- Merchandise offered: Linens of Love (bedding, towels, curtains, tablecloths), Hearth & Home (home décor), Kid’s Korner (toys and gift ideas for littles through teens), Man Cave (assorted men’s gift items), Winter Wonderland (coats, hats, gloves, scarves), Bags & Bling (purses and jewelry), Children’s Secret Shoppe (area where kids bring their shopping lists to select/wrap gifts for their family members), and of course the Blessings Boutique (clothing).
- Donations: In addition to congregation members, we selectively requested donations from individuals that we know to ensure gift-worthy items. As donations were brought in they were immediately sorted in to the appropriate boxes.
- Team Assignments: Every woman was asked which “boutique” she’d like to manage. Women were responsible for decorating and arranging their tables to create a Macy’s-like shopping experience for our guests. The men were tasked with setting up tables the Sunday before, hauling away left over merchandise, and restoring order in the fellowship hall.
- Advertising: This was tricky. We wanted to be intentional to open the Bazaar up to those who needed it and not to the general public. A half-page flyer was strategically distributed to our food pantry recipients, local ministries/shelters, and individuals that the Lord laid on our hearts.
- Timing: We chose a November Saturday from 9 am to 3 pm. Shoppers lined up by 8:15 and dwindled by noon.
- Refreshments: Hospitality is huge. Coffee, cocoa, cider and Christmas cookies provided an opportunity for mingling. Many shoppers hung around long after they finished shopping.
- Raffle: We raffled two new gift items, which shoppers enjoyed. The entry forms included contact info as well as prayer requests. We will be praying and reaching out to each of these folks.
It was a blessed day. We focused on Matthew 25:31-40, and were able to meet/minister to many wonderful souls. Our women put their hearts into their boutiques with the goal of blessing in Jesus’ name. We hope to make this an annual event. If you’re looking for a seasonal community outreach whose impact is multi-dimensional a Blessing Bazaar may be just the ticket.