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    December 2009: AILO Florence Annual Christmas Bazaar

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    Article Submitted by AILO Florence FAWCO Rep, Jocelyn Fitzgerald

    Our annual Christmas Bazaar is always held on December 8th, this is a public holiday in Italy.

    The space used is the ex Royal stables here in Florence (no heating!!!!) which belongs to the Belle Arti, the Florentine Arts council so all sorts of burocratical procedures have to be dealt with each year, the work for the Bazaar begins in June and steadily increases until the day. The lottery is the main source of income so getting good prizes helps to sell the tickets, we encourage all members to participate in this acitivity. The other booths are : White Elephant, New Boutique, Handmade, Books, Baked goods, Jams and Jellies, Jewellery, Accessories, Clothes, Lucky Dip, Toys, Xmas decorations, Refreshments. So there are many areas to choose from, we also like to keep the atmosphere festive so also have a show for the children plus a roaming Santa to distribute cheer and candy.

    It is a very big job and considering that most of our ladies are 60+ it is to their credit that each year the Bazaar gets bigger and more successful.

    It is well known in the Florentine community and the crowds start gathering early in the morning to be the first to come in and benefit by the bargains to be had!

    We are also assisted in this event by the volunteers from General Electric who are thrilled to come in and set up the refreshment area and participate in the fun!

    Most of our ladies are quite exhausted at the end of the day and the clean up and packing up is left to very few the next day, but we all come away with a warm feeling of satisfaction that once again we have achieved a successful Bazaar!!!

    The proceeds are allocated to local chairties, these are presented by our members - each member has the chance to sponsor one charity and a specific project requiring funding.

    These are all investigated by a 'donation research' committee and the final list is then printed for voting by membership.

    The winners are those who obviously receive the most votes and the checks are then presented to the charities in April at a ceremony 'Donation Day' in Palazzo Vecchio, the city town hall, each charitiy has the opportunity of presenting their work and explain why they needed the specific funding, it ends with refreshments and an informal period in which the members have the chance to interact with the charities representatives who are present.

    Last year the participants included a group of the residents of the Beato Angelico home who had written a poem thanking AILO for the contribution to their mini bus, which would set them 'free to roam' and overcome their handicaps and crippling old age. It was very jolly but moving at the same time.

    It also keeps the town council and mayors office abreast of our activities and the work of the very worth chairites we help.


    During the summer months: Simona who was the Bazaar chair this year held several workshops for members to make all sorts of handcrafts to sell. she is very talented so was able to show us how to produce very desirable accessories, Xmas decorations, dolls and other, for this we held workshops at members homes from May through November, and the 'Handmade' booth at the Bazaar was very popular and successful.




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