NORTH TAMPA — Wine bottles have become bird feeders, old ceiling fan paddles are now Santas and elves, gourds have been painted into penguins and broken costume jewelry adorn the three wise men.
Discarded roadside pieces including chests and desks have been collected and transformed into little girls' dressup sets and jewelry holders.
All have been created by the crafters and furniture team at Forest Hills Presbyterian Church over the past year as the volunteers prepare for Saturday's (Oct. 15) annual Holiday Bazaar. It traditionally draws more than 1,000 shoppers and raises about $25,000 for donation to local charities and international causes with local ties.
The event, from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. at 709 W Linebaugh Ave, also includes collectibles, jewelry, vintage clothing, books, a bake sale and farmers market. New to the 18th annual event is a garden center under a tent with plants, yard art and dish gardens. A pancake breakfast and a barbecue lunch will be sold.
The crafters collect anything they might find useful from old furniture to buttons. Church members and the community also donate supplies. Friends spot a discard on a road and text a picture to the church's craft coordinator, Jennifer Gregory She can send a volunteer in a truck to go get it immediately.
"I think we are the only church I know that constantly goes dumpster diving," said the church's pastor, the Rev. Claudia Henderson.
Two houses on the church's property contain supplies, work space and completed projects for the bazaar.
"People have great faith in what we can do with all this stuff," Gregory said. And I thank the Lord daily for Pinterest," where she gets ideas for the craft projects.
More than 40 crafters and furniture refinishers participate with projects under way for 12 hours on Tuesdays and half-day on Fridays. Most volunteers stay for several hours and others work from home.
The bazaar began 17 years ago when the women's group decided it was time to revamp its fall festival, where it rented spaces to private crafters. Members decided to start making their own merchandise and they were thrilled the holiday bazaar raised $1,100 the first year, Gregory said.
The craft days began to grow and friendships developed.
Wanda Miley has been a craft volunteer since the beginning.
"It's just the love of the whole thing, the fellowship, being able to do something for others," she said as to why she continues. "We just have a good time."
The church donates most of the funds to smaller nonprofits that help children, women, families and homeless. Some recipients include Hillsborough House of Hope, the Judeo Christian Clinic, Meals on Wheels, Trinity Cafe and Village Partners International.
To distribute the funds, the church offered its first mission fair this spring, where local organizations were able to showcase their nonprofits and recruit volunteers. The representatives also networked among themselves and got to know what each did and how they could help one another, Henderson said.
For example, Church Women United gets lots of children's clothing it could not use, Henderson said. That organization is now sending those extra items to Outreach Assisting Students in Schools.
"Now we have organizations working together," the pastor said.
Contact Lenora Lake at [email protected]