UMass embraces winter with a Holiday Market

Artists and RSO’s come together


(Olivia Monroe/Daily Collegian)

By Isabelle Sarra, Collegian Correspondent

The holiday festivities are in full swing across campus as the semester comes to a close, and the Cape Cod Lounge was packed with student-run organizations and businesses presenting handmade crafts, literature, art and other fare at the UMass Holiday Market on Friday afternoon.

Among all of the tables, artist Renee Vartabedian drew in crowds with her handmade sea glass jewelry. Vartabedian, a senior studying economics and mathematics, did not expect for her small business to grow in the way it has.

“I just started making jewelry a few years ago as a fun side hobby and it’s kind of grown into this thing where I needed to start buying supplies and so I started selling it,” she said.

(Olivia Monroe/Daily Collegian)

The importance of supporting student businesses was not lost on Vartabedian, who often participates in local farmers’ markets and other ventures to showcase her work.

“I think, especially at a big university like this, it’s a good way to kind of get your name out there and also support other local students and what they make,” they said. “For the holidays too, it’s way cooler to get something that’s handmade from someone than to just order it online — in my opinion at least.”

(Olivia Monroe/Daily Collegian)

The market’s tables were filled not only with potential gifts for family and friends during the holiday season, but also with opportunities to get informed and make a difference in the community. Several registered student organizations made an appearance, including UMass Students for Reproductive Justice, who gave out candy and condoms at the price of filling out a Planned Parenthood Testimonial Form as to why they think reproductive justice is important.

When asked why she thinks it is important for student organizations – especially those aimed toward informing the campus community – to be represented at the Holiday Market, UMass senior Emily Lapinskas said, “It’s about increasing the information that gets out there about all the options students have and that their voice can be heard, especially with our cause since it affects every person at the University.”

Organizations outside of the University were represented as well at the Holiday Market. Senior Maddy McLaughlin discussed the presence of Great Falls Books Through Bars, a local volunteer-run organization that sends books to people who are incarcerated all over the country.

“We have packaging days, volunteer days the second Saturday of every month, and that’s when people read requests from people all across the country and we find the books out of our library of donated books and we send them free of charge,” she said.

Isabelle Sarra can be reached at [email protected]