Annual Craft Show Basket Program a Generous Gift for Saline Area Social Service


The ceremonial check passing. Brian Puffer, Director of Community Education, and Cheryl Hoeft, President of Saline Shows, present a check to Saline Area Social Service Executive Director Anne Cummings and Chief Executive Officer Glenna Rehder.

Saline Shows and Saline Community Education presented a check for $350. 70 to Saline Area Social Service at the agency's home Friday afternoon.

The money was collected at the Saline Spring Craft Show in the annual gift basket program. Each year, individuals and organizations from the community build gift baskets of food, household goods, books, gift cards and more. The baskets are then displayed at the craft show, where the big crowd - there were 200 more people at the show this year than at the last show in 2019 - vote by donating. 1 penny buys one vote. A quarter buys 25 votes.

There were a record number of participants this year, with people building 32 gift baskets. Below are the top vote-getters.  Saline Community Education Director Brian Puffer said the number of baskets increased from 24 in 2019, the last time there was a spring show.

Anne Cummings, Executive Director of Saline Area Social Services, thanked Puffer and Cheryl Hoeft, founder of the Saline Craft Shows, as Puffer handed the real check to Cummings at the home of the agency that provides a food pantry and other assistance to local residents experiencing financial difficulties.

"Thank you. This is very, very generous," she said.

But the $350 check is just the tip of the iceberg. The contents of those 32 baskets also goes to Saline Area Social Service to distribute to their clients.

One basket, built by administrators at Saline Area Schools, was filled with gift cards to local businesses like Emagine, Oscar's, Eleanor's and many more.

Many baskets, of course, included food and Easter treats but the basket makers donated a wide variety of goods.

"There's a lot of food items, of course, but there are so many different kinds of items that we don't always see here and it gives us another way to provide for our clients," Cummings said.

Hoeft is a big reason why the number of baskets continues to grow each year. Each year, she calls on more people to participate.

"We used to focus on the businesses. Over the years, we've encouraged families to get involved," Hoeft said.

Cummings said it's a wonderful program for Saline Area Social Service, whose clients are facing new challenges with the rising cost of fuel, food and rent.

The baskets are showcased at the craft show, which has thousands of visitors - exposing the agency and visitors to a lot of people. At the same time, the display highlights the generosity of the Saline community.

"We encourage the attendees to see how this community has given. And then they also participate by showing their enthusiasm and donating money for their favorite basket," Cummings said. "And then all the goods and baskets go back to us."

The Saline Craft Show and Saline Area Social Service also partnered on a juice box program.

Cumming continues to be impressed by the way the community rallies around Saline Area Social Service. Only two weeks ago, SASS was far short of its Easter basket project. They put out a call to the community and within a couple of days, they'd reached their goal.

"This community always shows up when we need it," Cummings said.

You can donate to Saline Area Social Service or learn about ways to support the mission at the agency's website.

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