In 1981, the Community Presbyterian Church in St. Maries started a small Christmas event to raise money for camp scholarships that the church’s youth ministry could use.

Forty years later, the event has grown to a full-scale Christmas Bazaar, which raises funds not just for the church but for non-profits all over Benewah County, including the St. Maries Ministerial Association emergency fund, the food bank and other food assistance programs, CASA and other mental health services, and every school in the district. The bazaar returns Friday, Dec. 3.

“This bazaar is special because we weren’t able to do it last year and because this is the 40th anniversary; that’s a lot of years.” said Penny Carpenter, chair of the event.

“I was all geared up for it in 2020, but then the wind went out of our sails, so I’ve been really excited about getting to do this one,” said Sandy Treloar, who is in charge of this year’s raffle.

The raffle includes a Traeger grill donated by Ace Hardware, $100 gift cards to both Archie’s IGA and Harvest Foods, donated by the stores, a $100 gas card donated by the Eagles Rider Club, and a handmade quilt, a cord of firewood, a full-size foosball table, and several food items all donated by church members, including a pie each month, baked by Carpenter’s husband Clark (“He makes wonderful pies. I’m spoiled,” she said). Tickets are 6 for $5.

The bazaar also includes a silent auction, and items for that have been donated by church members. They include home goods like stemware and serving platters, decor including a nativity scene set and train set, and more.

The “Christmas Nook” will have holiday decorations and handmade gifts for sale, along with cutlery and other kitchen utensils. Baked goods will also be available at the “Sweet Shoppe,” and include donations from both the church and the community. Those donations are accepted up through the morning of the bazaar.

The first time Carpenter came into the church building was for the bake sale, and she felt so welcome at the church that she’s stayed for 17 years. The people working on the event said that warmth and inclusion was an important of why they put the time into the event, and why they kept coming back. Kathy Martin, for example, said she had contributed to the bazaar since it started 40 years ago. She made chili for it with her mom.

“It’s been great for meeting the community,” Treloar said. “I’m still fairly new here and don’t have the family connections a lot of people have, so it’s great to meet people and create those ties.”

But more than a time for fellowship, the bazaar is an opportunity for the church to give back to St. Maries and Benewah County.

“Two years ago, we raised just over $6,000 and immediately dispersed it to organizations all throughout the area,” Carpenter said. “It’s so exciting to let us help others the way God wants us to, and that’s what’s fun about the whole thing.”

The Community Presbyterian Church Christmas Bazaar will be held at the church from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Friday, Dec. 3. A soup and pie lunch will be held from 11:00 a.m. to 1 p.m., and tickets are $6. Raffle tickets are available now from church members and will also be available the day of the event. Winners for the raffle and the silent auction will be announced at 3:00 p.m., but you do not need to be present to win.

For more information or to purchase raffle tickets, contact the church through its Facebook page or at (208) 245-2686, or call Penny Carpenter at (208) 245-4901.

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