Hard Working Holiday Elves

El Campo ISD Life Skills students work diligently to prepare for their annual Holiday Bazaar.

The young scholars are hard at work baking up a storm, sanding and painting holiday-themed signs and other handmade articles all with a festive flair. Preparation starts early each fall to ensure the yearly market is brimming with items to entice every shopper.

Groups from Hutchins Elementary, Northside Elementary, El Campo Middle School, El Campo High School, STEP II adult transition classes and two Rice CISD classes are participating this year, offering handcrafted knick-knacks and delectable baked goods made by the students themselves, with the help and direction of their teachers.

The community event has been held yearly since the mid-eighties and has grown in size over that time to being held at Christ Lutheran Church, 1401 Ave. I, El Campo, spanning two days. The church provides a central location between school campuses and allows enough space to accommodate all the students and shoppers.  

The tradition exists to provide life experience and funds for the various Life Skills classes in return for their hard work. It’s beneficial to everyone involved from the citizen shoppers to the staff and students who work to prepare and hold the event. In addition to learning the skills needed to prepare the items being sold, students learn communication and money skills by holding a pre-sale at the Northside Elementary campus. “Our students look forward to the bazaar each year,” Northside Elementary teacher Taryn Staff said.

Proceeds are used to benefit the Life Skills classes. They facilitate student trips into the community  to utilize practical skills they have learned in the classroom such as grocery shopping, ordering food in a restaurant, and going to the movies - things they will need to practice to successfully navigate the world as they grow into adulthood and varying levels of independence. The revenue also makes it possible to bring presenters or events to campus or even go on field trip experiences.

In the past, they have used a portion of the earnings to visit places like The Brookwood Community in Brookshire, a residential facility that provides educational and vocational opportunities for adults with special needs which ECHS classes hope to return to again this year, and the pumpkin patch at Dewberry Farm. Students also participated in trips to various museums, none of which would be possible without the eager shoppers that make purchases at the bazaar.

“We are extremely grateful for the community of El Campo and surrounding areas for supporting our students,” Staff said.

Last year the event was held completely online with items being pre-ordered. This fall, students and teachers are looking forward to resuming their normal routine with the fall market.  

Though ECISD will release at noon Thursday, the Holiday Bazaar will not be affected. Hours of operation are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 18 and 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 19.

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