* What: Thanksgiving Market at Chattanooga Market.
* When: 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday.
* Where: First Tennessee Pavilion, 1826 Reggie White Blvd.
* Admission: Free.
* Website: www.chattanoogamarket.com.
As part of Sunday's Chattanooga Market, the United Way of Greater Chattanooga's Center for Nonprofits and the Volunteer Center will offer their second annual Volunteer Fair, Engage 2012.
More than 20 nonprofit organizations will be on hand to share their missions and volunteer opportunities. Visitors may go from booth to booth to learn how they can make a difference in the community using their skills and interests.
A new feature this year is an interactive service project that will allow attendees to participate in an on-the-spot volunteer effort of stuffing 600 Sack Packs for children served by the Chattanooga Area Food Bank.
Sack Packs are bags of food that children who have no food to eat at home during the weekends can take home from school on Friday. Last year the Food Bank provided about 2,200 Sack Packs per week to 25 area schools, and 15 partner agencies provided an additional 3,000 Sack Packs per week for hungry children in a 20-county service area.
Thanksgiving is still a week away, but there's no denying that Christmas is sneaking up on us.
This weekend, the Chattanooga Market is giving a sneak peek at all the goods and crafts that will be available this holiday season. It's called the Thanksgiving Market, but really ...
"It's the beginning of Christmas shopping," said spokeswoman Melissa Siragusa.
From baked goods to crafts to handmade knitwear, the Thanksgiving Market will be a great place to get a head start. Purchasing items made by local crafters, bakers and entrepreneurs has the added bonus of being a contribution to the Chattanooga-area economy.
Homemade preserves are a hot item around the holidays, as are cakes and breads.
"This time of year, Bluff View Bakery does different breads that are more seasonal," Siragusa said.
Robin Pereria, otherwise known as The Cake Lady, bakes up tasty treats every week and sells them whole or by the slice at the market.
Some of her regular cakes include Italian cream, coconut, golden with chocolate icing and cookies-and-cream. For the Thanksgiving Market, she's making a pumpkin cake with a maple cream cheese frosting. She's still contemplating her specialty winter cakes.
"We're talking about a mint chocolate chip for the holidays," she said. "Somebody suggested a peppermint, but I'm not sure about that one. I have to try it and see if it's not too crunchy."
Handcrafted aprons are a great gift as well, either for Christmas or for a hostess gift at Thanksgiving. Or buy it for yourself, and look cute in the kitchen at the holidays and all year-round.
"You can get all gussied up for holiday cooking," Siragusa said.
The market will be closed the weekend of Thanksgiving, and the following weekend is the official Holiday Market kickoff.
Contact Holly Leber at email@example.com or 423-757-6391. Follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/holly leber. Subscribe to her on Facebook at facebook.com/holly.j.leber.
Holly Leber is a reporter and columnist for the Life section. She has worked at the Times Free Press since March 2008. Holly covers “everything but the kitchen sink" when it comes to features: the arts, young adults, classical music, art, fitness, home, gardening and food. She writes the popular and sometimes-controversial column Love and Other Indoor Sports. Holly calls both New York City and Saratoga Springs, NY home. She earned a bachelor of arts ...