TAMPA — Haley Simpson and her mother, Dori Simpson, were looking for Christmas presents on Sunday.
Since Haley Simpson has friends involved with Junior League of Tampa, a women’s organization that promotes volunteerism, developing the potential of women and improving communities, the pair were at the Florida State Fairgrounds for the organization’s Holiday Gift Market.
More than 150 vendors from around the country participated, and organizers said the Simpsons were among an estimated 15,000 shoppers who attended the three-day event that ended Sunday.
“I’ve bought lots of jewelry here and some candles, so far,” Haley Simpson said at a jewelry booth run by The Shine Project of Phoenix, Arizona. The company’s jewelry was made by inner-city youth.
Haley Simpson said she and her mother planned to continue shopping.
“I like supporting local businesses and organizations,” she said. “It’s nice having them all here in one air-conditioned building.”
Throughout the weekend, merchants sold everything from clothing, jewelry and handbags to food, art and children’s items.
Presented by Publix, the Holiday Gift Market is the Junior League’s largest fundraiser.
Proceeds go “right back into our community projects that we do in the areas of child welfare and literacy,” said Courtney Haygood, the market’s co-chair.
Since 1986, the Junior League has contributed more than $4 million to the needy in Tampa, the organization said.