ONCE again, the American Association of Malaysia's (AAM) annual Christmas charity bazaar took off with a bang.
The US ambassador to Malaysia Christopher J. LaFleur was guest of honour at the 19th charity bazaar and launched the opening of AAM's primary fundraising event of the year at the Crown Princess Kuala Lumpur recently.
LaFleur described the event as a chance for the American community to give something back to Malaysia as the host nation.
He also launched the Christmas Giving Tree'' joint-effort initiated by the Federal Hotels International (FHI) Group of Hotels with AAM. FHI comprises Crown Princess, The Federal Kuala Lumpur and Hotel Capitol Kuala Lumpur.
Instead of glittering ornaments, the tree has star-like cards with names of children in need of Christmas gifts.
The public were invited to pick up a card and sponsor a gift for a child.
FHI marketing, regional sales and business development director Ooi Lee Ping said recipients for this year's Giving Tree'' were children from Selangor Cheshire Home, Shelter Home, San Pedro Shelter For the Poorest of the Poor Kids, Rumah Shalom and Yayasan Sunbeams Home
This is part of our group's effort to promote togetherness and our sharing and caring community commitments.
We want the children to know that we care and remember them during this joyous Christmas festive period, Ooi said.
The Giving Trees'' will be located at the lobbies of Crown Princess Kuala Lumpur, The Federal Kuala Lumpur and Hotel Capitol Kuala Lumpur as well as at the AAM office at 8, Jalan Murni, Off Jalan Damai.
All the gifts placed under the Christmas tree will be collected on Dec 20 as we will present them to the homes on Dec 22, Ooi said.
The bazaar with some 100 vendors, including 28 charity organisations, was akin to a busy flea market as people of all races walked from one booth to another in search of good buys.
Bangla Treasures had lovely hand embroidered cushion covers and bed covers from Bangladesh, including some Christmas table runners and coasters for shoppers.
Seri Timur Enterprise from Central Market had paper mache ornaments in the shape of stars, balls and bells from Kashmir.
Proprietor S.K. Tang said some of the paper mache pieces were also handmade by local design students.
Judy Phoon's booth had vibrant hand-painted T-shirts in red, black, white and pink with Christmas motifs.
Beverly Collection stood out for its collection of rag-dolls, priced between RM50 to RM150, which are handmade by proprietor Beverly Liew.
We use American cotton and even the hair on these dolls are imported, Liew said.
The Malaysian Association of Guardians for the Intellectually Challenged (Magic) sold gift bags made by special children and also cook books with recipes made easy for young children.
AAM president Lindsey Eliason said they hoped to collect more than RM50,000.
AAM tries to help the less fortunate by raising money to support efforts to build new homes for families or to feed, cloth and educate children.
The AAM has donated over RM350,000 to local organisations within Malaysia over the last few years, including the St Joseph Breakfast Programme, Tunku Hayati Children's Trust Fund, Cheshire Home and Shelter Home, Eliason said.
The AAM craft table set nearby the stage area offered some handmade Christmas ornaments and decorations and stuffed animals made by AAM members.
On another side was the white elephant table, where second hand items such as toys and books were put up for sale, at knock down prices.
AAM members at the bake-sale corner had their hands full selling cakes, breads and cookies to hungry customers.
Lavanya Arts, Red Star Art and Trading, Teak Charm, Istanbul Bazaar and Fabulous Things were some of the other vendors who took part.