There was a steady hustle and bustle of holiday shoppers at the fourth annual Holiday Market last Saturday at the J.F. Gregory Park pavilion.
The event, hosted by the Richmond Hill Chamber of Commerce, drew customers looking for special gifts for loved ones and vendors with unique products to sell.
Products featured included soy candles, knitted winter hats, local honey, specialty soap, customized home décor, jewelry, organic vegetables, dolls, Christmas ornaments, Pampered Chef, Mary Kay, paddleboards and more.
Vendors came from Richmond Hill, Savannah, Pooler, Bloomingdale, Hinesville, Ludowici and other area cities.
Susan Giddens Steward, owner of Gratitude Gardens, set up a vendor table at the market with the help of Windsor Forest High School students. Proceeds from sales of organic vegetables, seeds, homemade jams and Christmas ornaments supported the Future Farmers of America club at WFHS.
“From seed to harvest, we teach how to do it all,” Steward said of her work at the high school. “I go to the school and teach the kids how to cook what we grow. They come to the farm to plant, weed and pick the harvest. Everything we do is organic. What you put into vegetables is what you get out.”
A little farther under the pavilion was a lady dressed in a bright-green monster suit. Naomi Havens, dressed as the “Whatif Monster,” was representing Usborne Books. The book, “Jonathan James and the Whatif Monster,” and a plush Whatif Monster were available for local Wounded Warrior families for a $20 donation. Havens recently gave Whatif books and toy sets to 16 Gold Star families, which are military families whose soldier died in action.
“They came from Beaufort, Savannah and Jacksonville on their way to a Snowball Express event in Texas. We met them at the Savannah Airport,” she said.
In the middle of the pavilion, another vendor table was set up for Damsel in Defense, a line of personal self-defense products designed specifically for women.
McKenzee Williams and Tracey Norrell, independent Damsel pros, told stories of why personal protection is so important to them.
Williams was at the Pooler Walmart walking back to her car when she noticed someone following her from a distance. She already was using the flashlight on her “Get a Grip” stun gun when she decided it was time to send a warning.
“I turned around, looked the man straight in the eye and discharged a warning [from my stun gun]. The man immediately turned around,” she said. “Sound is the No. 1 deterrent for criminals.”
Williams dispelled some defense myths.
“A lot of people say, ‘Just use a can of wasp spray.’ How many women do you know that actually carry a can of wasp spray in their purse? It’s a federal offense to use wasp spray for any other purpose than what it was created for. It says so on the bottle,” she said.
Norrell is a survivor of domestic violence.
“My situation I was in involved guns, so I don’t feel comfortable having a gun in the house,” she said. “My daughter is also a survivor of sexual assault. Every woman needs to have an option. She doesn’t have to be defenseless to violent crimes.”
Along with black, pink, purple, blue and green stun guns, Damsel in Defense offers pepper sprays, vehicle emergency tools, personal security alarms, key chain striking tools and alarm trackers for young children which sound when a child ventures too far from a parent.
“People who attack women aren’t going to change their attack. They are going to change their victim,” Williams said. “They prey on women who appear weak and defenseless. If you show them you’re willing to fight back, they may turn around.”