• Michelle Crawford, St. Jude's, Niceville

St. Jude's holds successful bake sale for hurricane relief


Above: St. Jude's bake sale for hurricane relief was supported by parishioners of all ages. (Photo by Michelle Crawford)

The Community Christmas Parade is one of the biggest events on Niceville, Florida’s calendar. Thousands of people line the streets to watch the dozens of floats, marching bands, and groups walking in the parade and throwing candy. St. Jude’s Episcopal Church is located directly on the parade route, providing a unique opportunity for outreach and evangelism. In 2016 and 2017, St. Jude’s hosted a Fair Trade Market before and during the parade, selling ethically-sourced hot chocolate and coffee to the thirsty crowds and offering an assortment of interesting fairly-traded merchandise from around the world, providing jobs to artisans and raising awareness of the people and issues behind the products we buy every day.

After witnessing the devastation wrought by Hurricane Michael in 2018, we decided to do something different during the parade and held a bake sale to raise funds for recovery. We advertised the bake sale in local newspapers and posted invitations on social media. Parishioners baked and wrapped individual treats that would appeal to the waiting crowds. The day of the parade was warm; we even made a last-minute choice not to serve hot chocolate and coffee – a decision we quickly had to reverse when our customers started asking for them! Several of our parishioners gave up their Saturday morning to help out, and some of our youth took the lead on running the booth itself and drumming up interest. One customer who had attended our Fair Trade Markets the past two years came up to ask for Fair Trade merchandise – we ended up bringing out the Fair Trade items we had in our Parish Hall and donating the proceeds from their sale to hurricane relief as well!

Our deliberate decision to ask for donations instead of pricing items paid off as the good people of Niceville gave larger amounts than they normally would have spent on a bag of cookies. It was simpler to manage, too. After the parade ended, our volunteers took all the remaining baked goods into our Parish Hall for our parishioners to take in exchange for donations on Sunday morning. In all, St. Jude’s raised $317.11 from our bake sale, which we then donated to the diocese’s Hurricane Relief fund. This event proved that Niceville is truly a nice place to be!

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