Hank and Tami Brackman of North Adams set up their Seed of Hope table selling strawberry popcorn to raise money for the Branch County Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Jim Pruitt photo
A table at the Hillsdale United Brethren Church's Christmas Craft Show Dec. 5 featured items made by women from House of Hope in Nicaragua. The women are learning trades and skills to leave prostitution and support their families. Jim Pruitt photo.
By James Pruitt / firstname.lastname@example.org
Posted Dec 10, 2015 at 5:00 PM
HILLSDALE — Helping others was the theme at a local church craft fair Saturday, Dec. 5.
The Hillsdale United Brethren Church hosted its second annual Christmas Craft Show and Vendor Expo at its activity center. The church set aside money paid by the vendors for their tables to boost its benevolence fund, and other vendors were in the giving mood, as well.
Organizer Christina Jensen said she came up with the idea to donate the table fees to the fund to help the church assist more families during the holiday season. The church raised around $340 from the show.
The event used to be in the church’s sanctuary/gym, but outgrew it a few years ago. After the church built the activity center, the show was reborn, Jensen said.
The revived show received a boost when the Women’s Evening Missionary Society returned, after spending several years at the holiday craft bazaar at the high school.
Heidi Olinger was manning a table filled with goods made by women in Nicaragua who are trying to leave the world of prostitution. The effort is led by the Hope House, a Christian ministry begun in 2001 with the purpose of freeing women from sexual trafficking.
The group started a weekly support group called Tuesday Morning in 2004 and grew from two women to 25, and now has more than 300. The women handcraft items to be sold at the ministry’s online store. The funds help supplement their income from other part-time work and is used to teach them skills they can use to start a new life. More than 60 women live in the Managua, Nicaragua, house, where they learn trades and skills necessary to support their families. Children of the women also receive uniforms and supplies for school. The ministry has recently opened a second home in Honduras. A table manned by Linda Smith, wife of HUB Senior Pastor Les Smith, raised money for the Alpha Omega Women’s Center on Howell Street. Smith collected money for a cookie box that could be filled at the center. Another table was selling popcorn grown in North Adams to fund efforts to curb domestic violence. Tami Brackman, a survivor of domestic violence herself, said she found a way to give her pain a purpose through the popcorn sales.
Her husband, Hank Brackman, said he had the seeds in his basement and liked to farm, and thus Seed of Hope was born. He grows several different kinds of strawberry popcorn and 10 percent of the profits go to the Branch County Coalition Against Domestic Violence.