About 30 vendors offered free samples and information.
Affinity Health offered information from several of its programs, including early cancer detection, organ/tissue donation, smoking cessation, advanced care planning, car seat/helmet safety, Lifeline and stress reduction. There were also screenings for blood pressure, diabetes and ear wax, speakers, and vendors ranging from the Valley VNA and Andersen Chiropractic to On This Rock, a local Christian bookstore, and “green” vendors such as the Golden Goat, Globally Sound Fair Trade, Just Act Natural and Festival Foods contributing snacks of organic cheese and crackers.
For the sponsoring parishes — St. Jude the Apostle, Most Blessed Sacrament and St. Raphael in Oshkosh and St. Mary in Omro/Winneconne — the fair also manifested a wider mission. The event started last year as a wellness fair, Christensen said, but was broadened this year into a Care Fair that included “green” solutions to help the earth.
“The Care for God’s Creation committee at St. Jude focuses on being green,” she said, “and helps the St. Jude community with weekly bulletin tips and looking into how we, as a parish, can become more green-friendly. Pope Benedict XVI has made caring for God’s creation a priority, and that helps to keep that in front of people’s consciousness.”
Christensen said the Care Fair took a holistic approach to the care of God’s creation, body, mind and spirit, and was aimed not only at Catholics, but the community at large. The parishes worked with local organizations to get the word out.
“This is something we wanted to do to reach out to others and invite them into our churches,” she said. “Especially with the Catholics Come Home campaign, this is something to offer the community at large.”
Attendance at the fair doubled from last year.
“They’ve got a lot of good booths,” said Pat Paulik, a member of St. Jude. “I liked being able to pick up things and find out information.”
Sandy Putman, a member of St. Raphael, said, “I love all the opportunities they present here, and I like the ‘green’ products because I like to do those things to preserve the earth. I love all the free samples. There were many things I didn’t see last year.”
“I think the fair is fantastic,” said Bob Hoffman, of Most Blessed Sacrament. “The people doing this are very knowledgeable.” Holding up a bag bulging with free samples and information he added, “I’ve got a bagful to study.”
Christensen said the fair is also an example of collaborative ministry for other parishes.
“It’s important for us to be able to offer something like this for our parishioners,” she said. “These are things they care about every day. We bring all these people together in one place, where everyone can benefit from the information, learning and free screenings. The green aspect is very important for everyone. To be able to actively show people how to care for God’s creation is a wonderful gift to offer to the community.”