Holiday craft show lifts spirits for the Class of 2019


From nine in the morning to three in the afternoon, people of all ages and vendors with many different crafts and talents celebrated the spirit of the holiday season in benefit of the Class of 2019. About 800 people gathered at the high school on Saturday, December 1st for the 25th annual craft show. Since 1993, the Project Graduation Craft Show has been wildly successful, bringing in about $20,000 for the senior class.

  From prizes, great gifts, home decor, food, bake sale goods, and cheer, there’s not much this craft show lacked. After entering the main doors, a table set up at the front of the lobby presented raffle tickets available for purchase.  “We go to local businesses and ask for donations through parents and the school,” said current President of the Project Graduation Committee, Lori Raroha. “The winners are announced at the end of the fair by 3:00.”

   40 regular tickets were sold for $20, and Grand tickets priced at $10 for 3 tickets. With purchase, tickets could go into the corresponding raffle bags of the baskets of your choosing. Gift baskets present at the craft shows were donated by local businesses, parents, and vendors, with values of the baskets ranging from $50-$100. Baskets could be a pair of tickets to a Flyers’ game, movie themed baskets, or anything in between.

  According to Lori, fifty or so baskets were donated from the community and vendors.

  “I think the baskets are my favorite part of the craft show because it becomes a community event and they look forward to it,” said Raroha.

  Vendors buy a space at the show for a rate of $70 for the day and can set up around 6 in the morning. The 137 busy vendors presented a large and varied selection of products that appealed to the any group of people. The show serves as a chance for talented people to showcase their best work and enables great networking opportunities. Many masterminds, including new and veteran crafters, whether it be 13 year old slime entrepreneurs, newfound bakery owners, woodworking masters, skincare gurus, jewelry makers, wreath and Christmas related vendors, or mosaic tile and glass experts all had a comfortable space at Eastern. These vendors lined the halls of the lobby, and covered the entire Gym 4 and 20 cafeteria. Typically, the majority of vendors have goods related to Christmas.

   In the cafeteria, volunteers and the Project Graduation committee kept busy preparing and putting out food for the patrons. In the morning, there were bagels, coffee, donuts, muffins, and other breakfast foods sold. For the remainder of the craft show, they put out things like pizza, hoagies, hot dogs, pretzels, and several varieties of drinks and sodas.

  The Project Graduation craft show has many components to it, requiring lots of preparation, planning, and help from the entire community. The help received, which mainly came in the form of donations, is what made, and always has made the entire event possible. Mrs. Samaha’s Culinary Arts students contributed cookies too, and parents of students, staff members, or anyone interested donated other baked goods. Two tables were filled with an assortment of bags of homemade chocolate chip cookies, brownies, sugar cookies, brownie cookie cake, cupcakes, muffins, and other goods, mainly priced at $1 each.

“The craft show was a lot to put together, but we had someone take charge of the cafe and someone take care of the vendors. I was in charge of the baskets,” said Raroha. Each component of the show contributed to the $20,000 that was raised.

“We make most of our money out of the vendors’ space rental rate, the raffle ticket sales, the food that’s sold in the cafeteria, and food from the bake sale. We probably put out $1000 between the basket donations and the food for what wasn’t donated,” she said.

  The Project Graduation committee mails membership forms home along with other informational packets and forms in the beginning of the school year. The forms are to help out the class for baskets, baked goods, volunteer help for the fair, chaperoning, and the party itself. They also have a table set up at Freshman orientation and a table at Back to School night.

  Project Graduation this year almost faced its end, as involvement was sufficiently lacking. This year only 150-160 membership forms at best were filled out, though volunteers didn’t always come through. Out of the 3,000 families at Eastern, the lack of interest proved to be troubling. Raroha, mother of a freshman, knew that she needed to step up.

  “I really feel like it [the craft show] was one of the reasons I signed on. Not just for the kids, but I didn’t want to see this event go away,” she said.

  Lori is beginning to brainstorm ways to improve parent involvement. Considering Project Graduation is a committee dedicated to the students, she feels communication with them would serve as a more direct outlet to raise their awareness for events and help with turnout.

  The craft show is the largest event hosted by Project Graduation throughout the year. The turnout each year seems to be quite consistent, and dozens leave with smiles on their faces and their arms filled with bags. Not only does this event help fundraise for seniors for each year, but it has been bringing friends and family together for 25 years.