Hundreds of folks got into the Christmas spirit a little early last weekend in Harker Heights, and it was all for a good cause.

People combed through tables of items, searching for Christmas presents at the St. Paul Chong Hasang Catholic Church’s Parish Center during the 23rd annual Ladies of Charity Holiday Bazaar on Saturday and Sunday.

It’s a holiday family tradition for some people.

Kathleen Burke, a St. Paul’s church member, said she has come every year since at least 2010.

“It’s become a tradition, something that I do with my daughter every year,” she said. “It’s nice to get together to see everyone.”

Burke’s mother is in the Ladies of Charity, so it’s also important to support the organization, she said.

“This kind of community outreach is important because something small to you can be something big to someone else,” Burke said.

It’s also a good way to teach her daughter the secrets of smart shopping.

“Here, you get the good stuff; it’s better than Walmart because you have to put some thought into it,” Burke said.

Most of the wide variety of items gracing the tables are donated to the Ladies of Charity Thrift Shop in Harker Heights by community members.

“The storeroom at the thrift shop gets pretty full because people are so generous to their community,” said Denise Brafford, vice president of the Ladies of Charity at St. Paul’s. “We appreciate that and thank everyone.”

Plenty of one-of-a-kind handmade crafts were available, along with books, Christmas trees and gifts, jewelry and plants.

The event is the big fundraiser for the Ladies of Charity, whose members try to help communities near and far.

Last year the event raised around $20,000 and the same is expected this year, Brafford said.

“We support the charities we know have a great benefit to the community, especially to help people who are marginalized,” she said.

Among the local organizations that benefit from the Holiday Bazaar include the Killeen Food Bank, Families in Crisis, the Killeen Free Clinic and helping homeless students in the Killeen Independent School District.

Profits from the Ladies of Charity Thrift Shop provide the lion’s share of the $64,000 that was funneled into 12 charities last year.

The Holiday Bazaar has grown every year, starting in St. Paul’s Parish Hall with a pie sale. As more items were donated and demand increased, the event was moved to the larger Parish Center.

It’s no easy undertaking, although the volunteers are all smiles.

Brafford said around 100 ladies in the organization volunteer at the Bazaar, in shifts, all while maintaining the organization’s thrift store in Harker Heights.

Brafford said she prefers to get Christmas shopping done early.

“That way we can concentrate on what Christmas is really all about,” she said.

The St. Paul Chong Hasang Catholic Church is located at 1000 E. Farm-to-Market 2410, Harker Heights.

The Ladies of Charity Thrift Shop is located at 1005 S. Ann Blvd., Harker Heights. It is open Tuesday and Thursday from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.; Wednesday from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.; and the first Saturday of the month from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

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