The Mesquite ISD will hold its annual Mesquite Educational Paraprofessional Association (MEPA) Holiday Bazaar virtually this year where people can shop online at local vendors through Jan. 4.
The MEPA Holiday Bazaar has been held at Poteet High School in the past during the holiday season to support local businesses. The funds raised are used for scholarships for high school students and paraprofessional staff.
“Any vendor who has online shopping or a webpage there will be online links to all those vendors, and those links will be on the website from Nov. 24 through Jan. 4. We thought it would be a good opportunity to still raise funds for our scholarships as well as giving those vendors the opportunity to participate in the holiday shopping,” MEPA Treasure and Organizer Yvonne Smeltzer said. “This is the first year we have cancelled the Bazaar over 20-30 years, so we thought this was a good way to still give back to the community.”
Vendors who have established web pages will be able to participate in this virtual bazaar. They will also be able to use Facebook as a business page. There will be a link to the virtual shops on the MEPA website, but vendors will be able to interact with shoppers from that point.
“We’ve had returning vendors reach out that want to return but don't have webpages. They come to our bazaar every year, but they are a home based business but don’t have the technology or webpages and don’t have those web pages,” MEPA President Lisa Porter said. “That’s OK because hopefully next year we will have the in-house bazaar at Poteet High School.”
The funds will be raised toward scholarships for one student and two to three paraprofessionals. Anyone interested will be able to apply for a blind review, and a scholarship will be given out based on qualifications. Last year, the MEPA Holiday Bazaar gave $1,100 in scholarships to students. This year, they hope to raise enough funds through the virtual event.
“We want people to know that MEPA believes in the community, and we are trying our best to give them what they want. I think the community will be excited about it,” Smeltzer said. “It's going to be a lot of word of mouth because our MEPA website, and all you have to do is like it and they will be able to see it. This is for the MISD community for one and the para community as well … all those that don't get the recognition that normally an administrator will get.”
Vendors can still register their business and shop link. There are about 20-25 vendors already registered for the event. The organization helps to promote the growth of local businesses and support its school students and employees.
“I think it's neat that we get to help the local small businesses with this event. It's not just one day shopping, so the ones that called in they can get a further reach because their link will be online for not just Black Friday for Thanksgiving but through Christmas and after Christmas,” Porter said. “Their shop will be online for a long period of time and then if anyone wants to go. We hope we get some positive feedback and that our vendors who do have online mechanisms are really excited.”