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Ready, Set, Shop: Doing Good In Dallas

For more than 50 years, Chi Omega Christmas Market has supported charities in Dallas

For four days every November, the Chi Omega Christmas Market helps supercharge holiday shopping. Since the 1970s, this philanthropic event has been a jumpstart for holiday shoppers, with an admirable history of supporting local charities in the process. With origins that date back nearly a half-century, the annual market has become a seasonal tradition in Dallas. This year, it’s back with new vendors, exciting ideas, and wonderful products to fuel the organization’s largest philanthropic effort—all under one roof.

The 45th edition of Chi Omega Christmas Market will open its doors November 16–19 in the Automobile Building exhibit hall at Fair Park.

“You can find anything from a pencil to a fur coat,” co-chair Karen Dower says. “Clothing, jewelry at all price points, accessories, toys, books, gifts for children, plus holiday decorations.”

Jamie Hare is a Dallas sales executive (and Chi Omega alum) who has attended the market for more than a decade with the same four friends, collecting “cute clothes, personalized gifts, and stocking stuffers,” she says.

Same with Shannon Dawson. She’s logged five-plus years with a favorite co-worker on opening night. “It’s a tradition,” Dawson says. “We go together and try to knock out presents for colleagues and clients, have cocktails, and always run into friends and compare finds.”

One of the elements that make the Chi Omega Christmas Market special is the years of volunteerism. “We don’t have a membership requirement to work the event,” Dower explains.

Susan Portwood is also a Chi Omega alum (Auburn, 1974) who lives in Plano. A market veteran, she suggests taking four hours to walk the floor. “If you see something you know you want, buy it immediately,” she says. “It’ll likely be gone if you wait.”

The Chi Omega Christmas Market began in 1978 with less than 50 booths at the City Hall Dallas Convention Center. It’s been a winning formula, and after so many years, the event is distinctly multi-generational.

“This year we have committee co-chairs that range from 27 to 77, blending the talents of our entire membership into one event,” Dower says. “Our 2020 chairs were a mother and her two daughters. A pair of identical twins co-chaired back-to-back markets in 2018 and 2019.”

Dower says the Chi Omega Christmas Market is the only such show in America organized by a Chi Omega group and is considered the organization’s largest annual philanthropic event. “Now, at the 44-year mark, we’ve distributed $9.6 million to over 136 nonprofit agencies,” says Dower, including neo-natal rooms, women’s shelters, a poison control center, scholarships, and many more.

She adds the market owns many impressive benchmarks: “In 2019, when we raised $560,000 for charities in Dallas and continued the trend of touching as many as 15 charities in 2020 and 2021.”

General admission tickets are sold at area Tom Thumb stores and are available online at chiomegaxmas.org, as well as at the door.

“There is a special Mother’s Room for those with infants,” Dower adds. “And Santa will be there and available for pictures.”

Other charities impacted include RISE Adaptive Sports for special needs children, and Mommies and Me, based at Parkland Hospital. The Wesley Rankin Center, which bridges the gaps in education, the arts, and mental health, is slated as a 2022 beneficiary, along with the Make-A-Wish Foundation and more.

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