Holiday Gift Sale offers unique goods

Air Force Tech Sgt. Javier Cruz, an instructor at the Defense Information School, and his wife, Bridget, glance at the products offered at the Simply Whimsical display. Vendors Victoria Steger (right) and Jackie Bryant were among the more than 55 businesses at the Holiday Gift Sale on Tuesday at Club Meade. (Photos by Lisa R. Rhodes)

What is the best holiday shopping event for the Fort Meade community after Black Friday and Cyber Monday?

The Holiday Gift Sale, sponsored Tuesday morning at Club Meade by the Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation.

That’s the impression Angela Sangirardi, special events coordinator for FMWR, wanted Fort Meade shoppers to have as they browsed through the displays of more than 55 participating vendors.

“We’re all in the holiday mood,” said Sangirardi, event organizer. “We want to make this a fun, festive event.”

More than 250 people attended the four-hour gift sale.

Vendors sold a wide variety of items ranging from jewelry and homemade soaps to stationery, crocheted animals and handbags from Thailand.

In addition, shoppers could purchase lunch from four food vendors that participated in Fort Meade’s Farmers Market. Parked outside Club Meade, vendors offered pizza, Greek cuisine, tacos and beef burgers from their trucks.

Ashlee Larson (right) holds her infant daughter Emma Rain as she shops with her aunt Lisa Schittino at Scentsy, a small business owned by Joy Kimbrough, during the four-hour event.

Building Community

“We want to bring the community together,” Sangirardi said. “I hope they take away that buying from a small business is easy and it’s fun. I hope everyone supports us again next year.”

Ashlee Larson, wife of Sgt. Maj. Justin Larson of the Asymmetric Warfare Group, came with her 7-week-old daughter Emma Rain and her aunt Lisa Schittino.

“We love to shop, we love different things and we love Fort Meade, ” Larson said. “We like things that are unique, crafts that are made by hand that you won’t find in a store.”

“Unique” best describes the merchandise sold at the event.

Husband and wife team Kenneth and Cheryl Keys, owners of Keys 4 Life, displayed candles and soaps made from soybeans.

Cheryl Keys said her products are hypoallergenic and detergent-free. She started making the products when she discovered that her children and grandchildren were allergic to some of the ingredients in commercial soaps.

“We have to tell people not to eat our products because they smell so good,” she said with a laugh.

Keys said there was a lot of interest in her products.

“This is really a great way for people to buy holiday gifts,” she said.

Michelle Hausman, community outreach liaison for Fort Meade’s Officers’ Spouses’ Club, is an independent consultant for Nomadés, a company that specializes in jewelry and charms for the military community.

Hausman said she became a consultant about six years ago because the merchandise tells the story of service members and their families.

“That’s been the best part of it,” she said.

The company produces charms that represent every Army installation. The charm for Fort Meade is a groundhog.

Spc. Danny Neal of the 902nd Military Intelligence Group and his wife, Faith, checked out the display of jewelry by Marla Savin, owner of Sparkling Ideas.

“I like to look at arts and crafts,” Faith Neal said.

The couple arrived at Fort Meade from Fort Campbell, Ky., about four months ago with their four children.

Faith Neal said the event was a good way to meet other people, but wasn’t sure how much shopping she would actually do.

“We have four kids at home; I’m not sure we’ll be shopping or not,” she said. “But I like a lot of it.”

Staff Sgt. Candice Harrison, a journalism instructor at the Defense Information School, stopped by during her lunch hour.

“I really enjoy getting gifts that are handmade and supporting small businesses,” Harrison said. “Everything looks fantastic. I just haven’t decided yet where I’m going to spend my money.”

Jay Lorien, a veteran and care coordinator at Kimbrough Ambulatory Care Center, displayed the wares of her company, Jay Lorien Accessories. The home-based company specializes in handbags, gloves and scarves.

“I decided this would be a good place to vend for the military community,” said Lorien, who separated from the Army in 1986 as a staff sergeant.

“I have good quality products that you won’t see again. I’m here to dress women, not to get rich. It’s another way of serving, one woman at a time.”

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