As we rush headlong into the holiday season, have you started your Christmas shopping or even thought about it? In any given year, it's great advice to "shop local". Especially this year, when small businesses are still suffering from the effects of the pandemic and shipping delays will be all but guaranteed.

It's almost time for the 9th annual "Mistletoe Market" from Mercy Medical Center and according to the Cedar Rapids Gazette, it takes place this Thursday, November 11, from 8:30 to 5 p.m. Admission is free and you can browse items from 40 different local vendors who are selling handcrafted items, good for both gift-giving such as jewelry and children's gifts as well as decorative items to deck your own halls.

There's also a bake sale in the Mercy Watts Library featuring homemade cookies, cakes, and other treats, and raffle tickets for gift certificates from local businesses at $2 each or 3 for $5.

The vendors will be set up starting from Mercy's 10th Street SE entrance to inside the Hallagan Education Center.

All proceeds of the event go to the Mercy Auxiliary. This is a fundraising organization run by volunteers who support various projects within Mercy.

This year, proceeds of the Mistletoe Market will benefit cardiac, thoracic, and vascular surgery services at Mercy. Becker and Klimes said the Auxiliary creates endowment funds for those departments to use as they see fit.

Visitors and customers will be expected to wear a mask at all times while browsing the market. Visit this website to learn about the vendors and the products, and as the in-person market is subject to cancellation at any time due to changing COVID protocols, that information will be provided there as well. The above is the same site you can go to if you'd simply like to shop the market virtually (online shopping is open during the same time as the in-person market is scheduled or you can contact many of the vendors directly.)

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