Holiday market serves Waco community

With Christmas less than two months away, local businesses and organizations turn to decorations and events such as the Junior League of Waco’s Deck the Halls fundraiser. Photo credit: Jessica Hubble

By Megan Rule | Staff Writer

The holiday season kicks off this weekend as the Junior League of Waco puts on its annual Deck the Halls fundraiser Thursday at the Waco Convention Center.

This is the 11th annual Deck the Halls event. The event is the prime fundraiser put on by the Junior League of Waco, and its purpose is to raise money to support the community. All the funds raised at the market go back into the Waco community for early childhood education and development.

“I hope that Waco realizes that the Junior League puts on more than just a market. We are doing this to significantly impact the Waco community,” said Jana Hixson, Deck the Halls 2016 co-chair and member of the Junior League of Waco.

There are more than 100 merchants that will be showcasing gifts such as artwork, food, jewelry, seasonal decorations, home decor and clothing, according to the event website. Deck the Halls will kick of Thursday for attendees with a special ticket, and it opens to the pubic Friday morning. Tickets can be purchased on the event’s website and are $7 in advance or $10 at the door. The event will be held at the Waco Convention Center.

Other events happening at Deck the Halls include Ladies’ Night Out, Gingerbread Bash, Breakfast with Santa, Mother Daughter Tea and special shopping events such as VIP Shopping and College Day. On Friday, students can get a $7 ticket at the door from noon to 7 p.m. with a valid college ID card. There will be a Cafe and Sweet Shoppe open during the market hours. A full schedule can be found on the event flyer.

“I would really like to encourage you all to come out and shop, especially on the college day, we would love to see as many college faces there as possible because there is a lot of great shopping that can go on,” said Beth Armstrong, president of the Junior League of Waco. “I really encourage the Baylor community to check it out especially if you haven’t before.”

Deck the Halls has been successful in the past and funds the majority of what the league does, according to Armstrong. The goal is to give as much as possible back into the community, whether through direct programs and services or through reactive grants, as well as giving back to members, Armstrong said.

“It’s the combination of two years of planning and hard work, so to see it all come together and the work of the committee of 30 will be very exciting,” Hixson said. “What will be most exciting is seeing what it translates to down the road to help Waco.”

Armstrong said the league plans to give $80,000 back to the community through its nine community projects that benefit early childhood education and development for children from birth to age three. Because of the success of Deck the Halls and sponsors, the league was also able to give $80,000 this past September to the Family Health Center of Waco in honor of the league’s 80th anniversary. The league researches the top areas of need in the community and polls members for passion in a certain area in order to determine what programs are already in place and where the league can plug into a need that isn’t being satisfied.

“I have two little kids and they love the event, so they know what’s coming, and they get excited almost as much as I do. It’s such a neat thing now to get to share that with them,” Armstrong said. “This will be the first year I get to bring my little girl to the mother daughter tea to start a new tradition. I’m also excited to get to see so many people in the community that you don’t cross paths with every day and knowing how many hundreds of thousands of hours coming together for all the good that the community gives in just showing up and attending.”

The Junior League of Waco is “an organization of women committed to promoting voluntarism, developing the potential of women and improving our community through the effective action and leadership of trained volunteers,” according to the Junior League of Waco website. It is a nonprofit organization that strives to make the community of Waco a better place to live.