Ember Sankowski (left) of Portage sells flower pens to Diane Barlog of DeMotte during a Hilltop Neighborhood House craft fair at Walt's Place in Valparaiso, Ind., on Feb. 2, 2013. | Stephanie Dowell~Sun-Times Media
AT A GLANCE
For more information about Hilltop Neighborhood House, 460 College Ave., Valparaiso, call 477-4222 or visit the website www.hilltophouse.org.
Updated: March 9, 2013 6:19AM
Shirley Allen is a lead teacher in the room for 2-year-olds at Hilltop Neighborhood House in Valparaiso, but she came to work Saturday with a different purpose in mind — shopping.
Allen, of North Judson, stopped by Walt’s Place, 554 Locust Ave., part of the social service agency, to check out its first arts-and-crafts fair. She bought cookies and crayons for her son, and hair bows for her niece.
“I really enjoy it; I think it’s great trying to do something for the community and have homemade things around,” she said, adding she knows many of the vendors through work.
The fair showcased the craftier side of some of Hilltop’s employees and their friends and families. The 13 vendors had an array of goods for sale, including crochet work, jewelry and other items.
Hilltop provides child care, adult education, a food pantry and other services. Officials wanted to give staffers a chance to show off their talents, said Rosa Munguia-Arias, Hilltop’s office coordinator.
“We wanted to see if we could get the word out about Hilltop to people who otherwise wouldn’t have access or know about it,” she said.
The fair was free to the participants, said Munguia-Arias, who does crafts as a hobby and offered jewelry, crochet items and earring holders made from old records.
“It’s just for fun,” she said. “We’re going to see how it goes and take it from there and make some tweaks.”
While 8-year-old Emma Morgan-Forney was at a soccer game, her grandmother, Yollie Morgan of Portage, and aunt, Kim Epperson of Valparaiso, staffed a booth of her handiwork, including Valentine’s Day-themed bookmarks and jewelry.
Morgan said she and Emma, also of Portage, shopped for the materials, and Emma spent much of the week preparing for the fair.
“I asked Emma if she wanted to participate, and she said she’d love to,” Morgan said.
Emma now has the crafting bug, Morgan said, and although the Hilltop fair was her first, it likely won’t be her last.
Emma already wants to find fairs to do come spring.