Church basements lined with cookies and handmade Christmas decorations help mark the beginning of the holiday season.
Members of the Lutheran Women's Guild have been sewing tree skirts and holiday cross-stitch since the spring. Next Saturday, their wares will be on display and their most popular item -- cookies by the pound -- will begin appearing on holiday party tables.
"People usually buy and freeze them and serve them a few at a time to guests," guild member Mary Beth Bradfield said.
The Lutheran Women's Guild hosts three fund-raisers each year. The holiday sale is their largest.
Women from Concordia Lutheran Church spend most of the year making homemade crafts, and this week, they will be hard at work in their kitchens making specialty foods, breads and baking kits.
"This is kind of an annual tradition," Bradfield said. "We open at 9 a.m., and people will be at the door at 8:30, waiting in line. They know we have quality crafts, and a lot of heart and work went into them."
Proceeds from the Lutheran Women's Guild annual Christmas Cupboard, Cookie Caper, Craft Sale and Brunch go to mission work abroad and to support area groups such as LIFT-UP of Routt County.
On the same day, the Holy Name Catholic Church will hold its sixth annual "Work of Human Hands Holiday Bazaar."
On Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 22 and 23, members of the church will be selling crafts from third-world artisans. Ten percent of the proceeds go to the church. The rest is sent back to the crafts people.
The "Work of Human Hands Holiday Bazaar" is part of a joint effort between SERRV International and Catholic Relief Services, organizer Tina Salazar said.
SERRV is a fair-trade organization that buys products directly from crafts people in countries such as Honduras and Ghana.
SERRV International buys products and warehouses them until they are sold by Catholic Relief Services.
Next weekend, Holy Cross will be selling chocolates from Ghana, nuts from Honduras and Peru, coffee from Costa Rica, Latin America and Africa, tea from Nepal and Sri Lanka and baskets from Bangladesh, Nepal and India, among other things.
"Catholic Relief Services offers hope and self-reliance to crafts people who struggle to support their families by giving them a fair wage for their work," according to a news release. "Many people work long hours for less than $1 a day for people who pay low wages but charge high prices."
Each year, Holy Name tries to make its sale more educational, by supplying information about the people who made the products they sell.
"The money they make from their crafts they use to educate their children or put a roof over their children's heads," Salazar said.
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