Show will benefit crafters and charities (3/18/10)

Event to be held Saturday at St. Michael’s College

March 18, 2010

By Greg Elias

Observer staff

A unique event on Saturday will allow residents to shop for crafts while helping local artisans and charitable causes.


    Courtesy photo by Robin Davis
Last year’s beCAUSE Craft Show at Ross Sports Center in Colchester drew dozens of vendors and raised thousands of dollars for charity. Admission to this year’s event is $2 for adults, free for children less than 12 years old.

The beCAUSE Craft Show runs from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Ross Sports Center on the St. Michael’s College campus in Colchester. The event, now in its fifth year, will have nearly 100 vendors.

Williston resident Heather Cleveland, who describes herself as the beCAUSE ambassador, said the event differs from other craft shows because it simultaneously accomplishes two goals: Promoting local businesses and boosting charitable giving.

“The craft show allows people to buy, say, a Mother’s Day gift, and while they are buying something from a local business, support a charity at the same time,” Cleveland said.

The show also aims to promote social and environmental activism, according to Cleveland, with an underlying goal of effecting global change with local action.

The event’s idealism is backed up by a dollars-and-cents commitment to charity. Between 50 percent and 100 percent of profits made by vendors will be donated to dozens of causes ranging from  Haitian relief to the Humane Society. All proceeds from the $2 admission charge will be donated to Heavenly Pantry Food Shelf in Essex.

Each vendor picks one or more charities that their sales will benefit. The charity’s name will be posted at each vendor’s table, Cleveland said, allowing customers to shop for goods to buy and causes to support.

The show first ran five years ago at Hiawatha Elementary School in Essex Junction, Cleveland said. It later moved to the town’s Albert D. Lawton Intermediate School, but attendance was poor.

The show’s founder, P.J. Neverett of Essex Junction, was diagnosed with cancer that year. Cleveland and four other volunteers pitched in to ensure the event continued. Neverett has stayed on as the lead organizer, Cleveland said.

Last year’s show was held at Ross Sports Center in Colchester, a roomier venue that attracted more vendors. This year, the number of vendors has nearly doubled, with 97 signed up as of last week.

A handful of this year’s vendors are from Williston: Allaire Diamond (hand-printed clothing); Sienna Fontaine (paintings and stationary); Lorelea Roberts (jewelry and photography) and Cheryl and Andre Hathaway (origami ornaments and homemade chocolates). Cleveland herself will sell baked goods and raffle tickets.

She said the show has grown so much that organizing it has become a part-time job, but it is still a fulfilling task. Over the years, the event has raised more than $30,000 for charities.

“I will actually be relieved when it’s over,” Cleveland said. “But it will be easier after this year because we never had it on this scale before.”

The recession has strained household budgets and made it harder for many people to respond to charitable appeals. Cleveland, an unemployed single mother, said she understands the situation as well as anyone.

“I’m on my 15th month of unemployment, so I know people are having a tough time,” she said. “But the fact that the community is feeling tough times means that organizations that rely on charitable donations are feeling it that much more.”

She said the show makes it easy to contribute because a purchase buys something tangible that just happens to help worthy causes.

“If you can get something from a local business and as an offshoot support a charity, that’s fabulous,” she said.