WALLA WALLA -- As local merchants around the Valley peddle their merchandise at a variety of holiday bazaars and craft shows, a group of older entrepreneurs is also cashing in on the season.
"It gives us something to do and a reason to live for doing it," said Virginia Angus, resident of Park Plaza retirement home, while she laid out dozens of items on Friday for the facilities' annual holiday craft sale held Saturday.
Angus is the unofficial leader of the retirement home's sewing group, which started knitting, embroidering, stitching and doing other similar activities in the summer of 2008.
In the off season, the group usually donates its handmade items to local charities. But in November there is a different focus and payoff of their labors -- the annual Park Plaza Holiday Bazaar.
"Everything we make we put it back into the sewing room," Angus said.
By 1 p.m. Saturday, the lobby was filled with almost three dozen vendors and numerous buyers. Taking up about four tables was the sewing group's booth, with quilts, blankets, sweaters, booties, stuffed animals and several other items.
"I feel like I really got a purpose here," said resident Helen Buetner, who pointed out it's not all about sewing.
"I sometimes spend a lot more time talking and not doing," she said, adding that socializing is just as important.
"It's a wonderful pastime. It's the camaraderie. Everybody gets together and does work. We enjoy each other," Angus added.
Across town, at the Odd Fellow Home at Boyer Avenue, residents were also getting ready for their big holiday bake sale next week.
"You always miss cooking when you have been in the kitchen for 70 years," Bernice Mock said, noting that her stroller chair keeps here out of most traditional kitchens.
But on Friday, Mock was able to bake several loaves of bread in the new facilities, which are designed to accommodate cooks who can no longer stand for hours. Along with Mock were several other residents in wheelchairs, helping to mix cookies and drop them on to cookie sheets.
Those who could stand, like Frances Huntington, 92, helped to bake the peanut butter and oatmeal chocolate chip cookies that will be sold next week at the Odd Fellows Home Holiday Bazaar and Bake Sale.
"I just makes you feel good that you are doing something to help somebody else," Huntington said after baking several batches.
In addition to baked goods, residents at the Odd Fellows Home have been busy making ceramics, knitted and crocheted items, blankets, ornaments and other holiday decorative items.
The money from the sale of their items will be used to support community activities.
The Odd Fellows Home Holiday Bazaar and Bake Sale is Friday 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturday 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.