Knoxville (WVLT) – On Saturday, area shoppers were checking items of their holiday shopping lists while giving perfect strangers a second-chance at life.
The charitable opening of checkbooks was part of the first annual Mistletoe Market and Vendor Fair at the Cokesbury Center, where a portion of the sales went to the faith-based "Celebrate Recovery" support group.
"There's a lot of vendors here, it's just a great opportunity shop," said Kimberly Hall, a Christmas shopper.
Hall bought some holiday cheer from the 18 vendors, but she also donated cheer because 10 percent of what she spent was donated to the Celebrate Recovery support group.
The charitable take on the typical holiday fair was the brain child of organizer Darlene Bishop.
"I just opened my own business, Bishop's Corner because I wanted a way to connect with other women in business, other vendors," said Bishop.
Celebrate Recovery uses faith to heal.
"We are a Christ-centered, biblically-based program of recovery for people struggling with emotional distress and addictive issues," said director Gil Smith.
Represented were vendors hawking everything from jewelry to candles and even beef jerky, all giving the program's 400 participants hope.
"For so many it's saving lives,” said Smith. “It's saving marriages and it's giving children their parents back."
That's why Maria Lawson set-up shop.
"Just knowing that I could be here to do something for somebody,” said vendor Lawson, “even if it's just one person."
Hall left the convention center with an armful full Christmas gifts, all to make a difference.
“I got to shop and save and it went to a great cause," she said.
Organizers say they raised around $200.
They plan to hold another marketplace fundraiser in the spring.
If you missed the event you can still donate to celebrate recovery by going to Cokesbury United Methodist Church in West Knoxville and tell them you'd like to give.
The group also meets every Thursday night in the Cokesbury Center at 6:30 PM.
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