Santa’s Elves Give Back to Community

Fort Smith Junior League sponsors fundraiser to benefit local non-profits

Volunteers for the Fort Smith Junior League prepared a weekend full of activities including shopping, live music, silent auction, and a visit from Santa Claus. This year marked the 21st annual Holiday Market event at the Fort Smith Convention Center.

Friday, November 21st included a full day of shopping from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and a masquerade gala that began at 6:00 p.m. that evening. According to Ava Knott, Holiday Market Ticket Chair, “this event is the league’s largest fundraiser of the year, which has brought in around $90,000 in past years.”

Volunteers at the Holiday Market Ticket Booth (Tina Criswell, Ava Knott, Meredith Freeman)
Volunteers at the Holiday Market Ticket Booth (Tina Criswell, Ava Knott, Meredith Freeman)

Although most vendors for the Holiday Market were local, several came from as far as New York and Florida to set up booths. More than 80 vendors participated in the shopping extravaganza. Shoppers were able to find a variety of items from the booths such as art, handbags, clothes, candles, holiday treats, and much more.

With more than 140 volunteers, the Fort Smith Junior League spent countless hours to make the Holiday Market possible. “We promote volunteerism and empower women, and we have fun doing it,” said Knott.

According to Tonya Storie, a local merchant at the event, “It makes it easer to do a booth because I know the money raised goes back into the community.”

Fort Smith Junior League Holiday Market
Fort Smith Junior League Holiday Market

Funds raised from this event benefit local non-profit organizations such as the Fort Smith Children’s Emergency Shelter, Girls Inc., with the Junior League’s main focus being on aging out of foster care. Every five years, the league chooses a new focus in the community.

Holiday Market 3
Holiday Market Booths

According to 5newsonline, Sebastian and Crawford counties have the highest percentage of children in foster care than anywhere else in the state. Young men and women who age out of foster care are those who have been fostered, but not adopted.

Unfortunately, young men and women who have bounced around from home to home, but have not been adopted are more likely to experience behavioral issues, be involved in substance abuse and crimes according to Sebastian County key findings.

Programs such as the Independent City and Skills 4 Life, were developed by Fort Smith Junior League to assist those individuals who may not have ever learned how to set an alarm clock to get ready for work, how to budget or even how to cook a basic meal.

In a news article from efortsmith former President Ashley Ahert explained that the junior league developed a creative hands on approach for the teens to transition to adulthood.

For more information about the Fort Smith Junior League and their annual fundraising events, please visit

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