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Cahaba Center’s Christmas Village returns Wednesday

Sandy Clark, Kristy Lowe and Jerry Osborne show off some of the hand-crafted ceramic goods that will be for sale at the Cahaba Center’s Christmas Village, which is set to open Wednesday at 10 a.m. -- Katie Wood

The Cahaba Center for Mental Health will welcome the Christmas season with the annual Christmas open house Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

“This is the start of the Christmas season. It’s just so exciting for my consumers and it allows the public to get a chance to see what we’re all about here,” Floyd Sanders, director of adult day programs at the Cahaba Center said. “[People will] get a chance to mingle with our students and see what we’re all about. [And they] can maybe purchase a Christmas gift for a family member.”

There will be handmade ceramic crafts, Christmas ornaments, quilts and other handmade gifts for sale at the open house.

“People with developmental disabilities paint and do ceramics. All this stuff will be for sale and really all the proceeds go back in to buying supplies for them to continue to work on their ceramics,” Cahaba Center Executive Director Lafon Barlow said of the ceramic crafts lining the room. “And you might think that people with mental retardation might not make quality stuff, but they get all kinds of blue ribbons — and that’s not competing with any special category, so they do really good work. I’m really proud of the quality of work that they do.”

Mayor George Evans will light the Center’s Christmas tree at 10 a.m. The building will be open to anyone who wants to stop by and see the Christmas village, buy some crafts, get some refreshments and listen to the carolers, Barlow said.

“We have carolers and they practice all year round. So a lot of times we hear Christmas songs in July around here,” she said.

And like the carolers who practice all year, the students who make the ceramics have been pouring and molding and painting all year in preparation for the open house.

“This is like the total of all the work they’ve been doing. So it’s important for somebody to come out. We’d like to make enough money to keep things going, but it’s also good because as far as the community, it’s an open house,” Barlow said. “Really it’s the only day of the year that we have an open house for mental health. It helps the community come in and realize — as far as stigma, it helps. Come in and see the folks here and I think it cuts down on stigma and lets folks know what we’re doing in the community.”

Barlow said it’s much more than just a sale.

“You’re going to go away having felt Christmas in your heart because it’s a blessing to see how much the people that we serve enjoy — they have never lost their childlike wonder of Christmas, just as far as the spirit of giving and fellowship and being with folks,” she said. “It’s more than just a sale.”

The Cahaba Center Annex is located at 417 Medical Center Pkwy.