No one really knows when it began, but everyone knows why.

The yearly Heidelberg Holiday Bazaar has been a tradition from way back when, bringing more than 100 vendors each year to sell treasures from around the world to help support the Heidelberg military community.

This year’s event will run from Oct. 10 to 13. It will be open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Oct. 10 to 12, and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Oct. 13.

The bazaar, operated by the Heidelberg Officers and Civilian Spouses’ Club on behalf of the 26th Area Support Group, is a major fund-raiser, with more than $160,000 returned to the community each year in the form of donations, grants and scholarships.

Typically, the bazaar brings in about $2 million each year from vendors. After expenses are paid, the spouses club and the area support group split the profits and then pour them back into the community, said Beth Flanagan, the club’s bazaar chairwoman.

Each year the club donates lump sums to local middle schools and high schools, as well as to the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts.

The remainder is given to various organizations through an application process, according to Amy Ramsey, the club’s welfare chairwoman.

She said the club lets the community know it has money to give and then it reviews applications for donations. Club members vote on whether to donate funds to private organizations and their activities, such as the annual volunteer conference for the American Women’s Activities, Germany.

Vendors, who bring German antiques, Italian porcelain, Polish pottery, French wine, Dutch cheese, Belgian carpets, Turkish rugs, Scottish wool and other riches from around the world, give the club a one-time fee for the space rented at the bazaar as well as a percentage of gains.

Because of this, the bazaar is the single most profitable event the club holds each year, but, thanks to the volunteers, money is not the only benefit to the bazaar, Flanagan said.

She stressed that volunteers are the backbone of the event, helping to do everything from check IDs to ensuring vendors are set up on time.

“Because the money goes into so many things that kids and soldiers do, it really gives everybody a greater sense of community. Plus, all the volunteers, about 300 to 400 of them, give a sense of fellowship to the community,” she said.

Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign up to receive a daily email of today's top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign Up Now