St. George’s Christmas Flare
St. George’s Church has been hosting a Christmas Bazaar as long as anyone can remember. Always a staple of the neighborhood, St. George’s opens its doors each year to host vendors from around the area selling their wares for a good cause. The proceeds from the bazaar support the ministries and operations of St. George’s, as well as the larger body of the Episcopal Church Women (ECW) of the Diocese of Washington, including the Free to Be Me summer camp for children, the Episcopal school for children with developmental and behavioral disabilities and the Bishop T. Walker School for Boys.
“The ECW Christmas Bazaar is the largest project the women undertake each year, making it possible for us to fund other projects and provide for other important ministries of the church,” explains Bazaar Chair Janis Evans, who has served in that role for the last 15 years. “That’s why it’s important to me as chair to carry on the work and to fulfill God’s purpose for us.”
Vendors sell a variety of goods from jewelry to shoes to flower arrangements, and there is a silent auction of goods donated by local community groups and businesses. There are also a few, what the ladies refer to as, “This-n-That” tables, that are not run by vendors. They include baked goods made by the women of the church, books for children and adults and a table with gently used items like housewares and trinkets. Food is also provided at $12 for hungry shoppers or those who want to take a bite home.
St. George’s, established in 1930, has long been a staple of the Bloomingdale neighborhood. It provides a breakfast program for needy individuals and families every other Saturday and mittens every season to children at an area school, and it participates in the Angel Tree Network to provide gifts for children of incarcerated parents. It also hosts the Bloomingdale Civic Association’s monthly meeting.
Sipping with Santa for the Spirit of the Season
It’s not hard to sell the offer of a free beer in exchange for a new Christmas toy for a child in need. Bloomingdale neighbors came together at Boundary Stone to celebrate this year’s Christmas Toy Drive, organized by St. Martin’s Catholic Church. The event brought in 120 toys and an opportunity to drink with Santa (he wasn’t drinking – probably).
The drive culminated with an event where the toys were handed out by, of course, Santa, and the kids were able to have their picture taken with the big man. “For the Christmas Toy Drive, we were able to give out toys from Boundary Stone and from many of our partners around the metro area,” explains Father Michael Kelley of St. Martin’s Church. “Because of the generosity of many, many people, we were able to give over 1,100 brand-new toys to kids whose families are struggling this Christmas.”
Santa made a stop at the Boundary Stone party as a special guest. The tavern offered a free beer, sponsored by Atlas Brew Works, to anyone who showed up with a new toy to donate. “Boundary Stone started our toy drive in 2011,” says co-owner Gareth Croke. “We partnered with World Missions Extension Center to bring toys to the less fortunate kids in the neighborhood. We then got to know Father Kelley from St. Martin’s and decided to split the donations between the two churches in hopes of broadening our outreach.” He adds, “When World Missions moved locations two years ago we began to focus our efforts on St Martin’s. We have had incredible support throughout the years from our event sponsor, Atlas Brew Works, which helped us to bring in over a thousand gifts throughout the history of the event.”
Officers from the Metropolitan Police Department stopped by to show their support and donate toys. Santa might have also had something to do with it.
Ward 5 Parties at Dock 5
This year’s holiday party at Dock5 was a glittering celebration of the neighborhood’s food, drink and, most importantly, people. Councilmember Kenyan R. McDuffie’s office hosted the annual holiday gathering at the event space behind, or really on the back end of, Union Market. While the warehouse event space is massive, it was packed with people and a party spirit.
The event is held every year, and McDuffie carried on the tradition when he took the post six years ago. His office coordinates transportation to the event for over 250 seniors through the Department of Parks and Recreation, with a pickup at each senior building in the ward. The event is entirely free and stocked with food prepared with help from the International Association of Firefighters Local 36, which has a large meat grill and meat smoking setup at its headquarters. Firefighters were on hand to serve the large amounts of BBQ.
The event celebrated local food and beverages businesses. Sprits and other beverages were donated by Anxo, Premium Distributors, One Eight Distilling, Pearl Fine Teas and Zeke’s Coffee, and attendees were able to try new products from Break Thru Beverage and Bring Your Own Cocktail. McDuffie’s office has been promoting the craft brew market in the hope of using more of Ward 5’s abundant industrial space.
The event is always well-attended, but this year McDuffie’s office estimates that more than 500 people joined in the fun, making it the largest event ever. Mayor Muriel Bowser, Councilmembers Cheh, Bonds, Gray and Silverman, and many advisory neighborhood commission members and civic leaders were on hand to speak with residents about the issues that matter to Ward 5. As they look forward into 2018, the councilmember’s office continues to focus on the affordability of housing as a primary concern for Ward 5, as well as safety and security.
Like any good party, food and drink were plentiful, but the main events were all about the holidays and the spirit of the season. The main purpose of the event was to collect toys for kids in need. This year, residents donated more than ever before. “The highlight of the event was seeing the generosity of Ward 5 residents. We collected more toys this year than ever before,” says McDuffie. “The Ward 5 Holiday Party is an opportunity to celebrate the year, give something back and bring together businesses and residents of all ages, from all corners of Ward 5.”
Most attendees agreed that the highlight was when Santa rode in with a police escort.
Taylor Barden Golden is a real estate agent with The Stokes Group at McEnearney Associates Inc. A former Hill staffer, Taylor lives in Brentwood with her husband, two dogs, and a cat. She’s always on the lookout for new places to explore and ways to spend time outside. Get in touch: firstname.lastname@example.org; @rtaylorb.