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European edition, Thursday, September 13, 2007

KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany — Organizers say there’s something for everyone at this year’s Ramstein Welfare Bazaar, from antique furniture to Italian wine.

Buying a gift at the Ramstein Air Base bazaar, which starts Thursday at noon, does more than give people a head start on Christmas shopping — it also helps local charities.

A portion of proceeds from each purchase goes to community causes, from Defense Department schools to youth activities.

Last year, the bazaar grossed $2.3 million, allowing the Ramstein Officers’ Spouses’ Club to donate about $320,000 to local charities. Organizers are expecting to bring in around the same amount this year — and hoping for more.

“This is something that gives so much back,” said Emmy Marchioni, who is serving as the bazaar chair this year.

The 43rd annual bazaar is the U.S. military’s largest in Europe and expects to attract about 22,000 people. More than 140 vendors will be available in two aircraft hangars and a nearby tent.

About 15 percent of the sales is donated to such things as schools, youth programs and Scout organizations.

In addition, units and area organizations sell food at booths to raise money. There will be two dozen booths this year.

An additional 1,200 volunteers are helping put on this year’s event, said Kathy Bailey, the bazaar’s volunteer recruitment chair.

This year, it will be easier than ever to spend your cash. Community Bank is bringing in an on-site ATM. Vendors also will accept checks and Visa and MasterCard.

The bazaar will be in Hangar 1 and Hangar 2 on base. Thursday and Friday are “stroller days.” Strollers are not allowed in the shopping areas Saturday and Sunday. No pets are allowed any time.

Hours are noon to 8 p.m. Thursday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. For more information, see http://ramstein- bazaar.org/.

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