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Get your holiday shopping done early at Marketplace
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What: Annual holiday shopping event

When: Preview Party 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. Thursday; sale 9:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday and 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday

Where: Gainesville Civic Center, 830 Green St. NE, Gainesville

How much: Preview Party is $40; Marketplace is $5, children 12 and younger are free; complimentary valet parking and a parking shuttle will be available

More info: 770-535-3394

This year the annual holiday shopping extravaganza, Marketplace, will feature more than 70 merchants from all over the Southeast.

Along with providing local residents with a chance to buy holiday gifts, Marketplace raises money for a special part of the Northeast Georgia Medical Center - the Northeast Georgia Health System's Women's Imaging Outpatient Center.

"The Auxiliary has designated 100 percent of the proceeds raised to benefit a new Women's Imaging Outpatient Center," said Lynne Allen, director of Volunteer Services at NGMC. "It's a new center that will be specifically for women within the medical center's new imaging center, which is currently under construction.

"The women's center will be a center that offers procedures such as mammograms, digital mammography, MRI and the money from Marketplace will be specifically for the women's area."

Last year $90,000 was raised for the hospital and there are hopes for an even bigger response this year to benefit the women's center.

"It's being designed to have a spa-like atmosphere to help reduce the stress for women when they are undergoing tests," Allen said. "Whether it be a procedure that is scheduled or something that is unexpected, it can often be very stressful for women. We feel if we have an area that has been designed for women it'll really be much more relaxing."

The 17th annual event is sponsored by The Medical Center Auxiliary Inc. and SunTrust, which have come together to showcase gift items like art and pottery, jewelry and other ladies' accessories, home accessories, women's, men's and children's clothing, gourmet food and Christmas items.

Today will kick off the event with the Preview Party at the Gainesville Civic Center.

"You get your first look of everything that is already there, and we do have an auction," said Elizabeth Embry, a third-year chairwoman of the fundraiser. "Bold Mary is little girls' dress up and it's just interesting cute things; she's out of Atlanta. The Full Nest from Flowery Branch are home accessories; they're coming. And one vendor that was well received last year was Susan Snaps from Atlanta, and that's gingersnap cookies."

Along with Embry, Scarlet Pendarvis and Caroline Cobb combined their efforts to lead a 30-member committee and around 200 volunteers.

Local vendors include Daddy's Money and Posh Princess, Marthasville Products, Not Just Stationary, Purple House Gallery and Amy White with So Sassy, who is bringing her monogram machine.

Local artist Julie Deane will be creating charcoal portraits of children or pets on Friday and Saturday by appointment only. To schedule a reservation for a sitting with the artist, please call 770-535-3394.

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