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Bazaar? Yes, and it's a way to share Christmas with the truly needy.

November 17, 1994

SANTA'S HELPERS: If Rwandan refugees seem more needy this Christmas than does Uncle Elmer's tie collection, then the Bethlehem Bazaar may be your kind of place.

After all, if you're inclined to buy a family of piglets for fledgling ranchers in Colombia or coffee plants for an aspiring farmer in Nicaragua, the mall probably can't help you. Purchases such as these are made at the bazaar, sponsored by Rolling Hills Covenant Church, and shipped to the needy in the United States and in Third World countries.

The idea is simple: Instead of buying more stuff for people who already have too much stuff, shoppers can fill a few basic needs for the underprivileged millions.

Gift-buyers are encouraged to do their holiday shopping at the bazaar, then send cards to friends and family letting them know their gifts ended up in, say, Bangladesh.

The church, at 2222 Palos Verdes Drive North, will conduct the bazaar from 4:30 to 8:30 p.m. Saturday and 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Sunday. It is free.

Illinois-based World Relief plans to back 22 such bazaars this year as a way for participants to "rediscover the real meaning and joy of Christmas," as church spokeswoman Kathleen Smith put it. The bazaar is decorated to emulate a biblical-era marketplace, with workers dressed in the fashion of the time.

"Some people have a hard time in malls finding a gift that their cousin, nephew or dad really needs," Smith said. "But these gifts are desperately needed and greatly appreciated. And it also gets your Christmas shopping done early."

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BULLETPROOF BOBBIES--Torrance Police Department's bulletproof vests--its used ones, that is--will soon have about 100 London bobbies breathing a little easier.

Torrance has joined a nationwide effort to ship its vests to the U.K. after an Internet conversation between a Scottish detective and a Las Vegas lieutenant prompted the idea. Torrance Officer Devin Chase learned of an ensuing effort to collect vests and got Torrance involved, Torrance Sgt. Dave Smith said.

Law enforcement departments in the United States routinely replace bulletproof vests after the warranty runs out in five years, so the country is amassing quite a stockpile of used vests. And because officers in the United Kingdom have been going without, many are willing to make do with leftover American vests (they call them body armor over there).

A recent shootings of three London bobbies spurred overseas interest in bulletproof vests.

"Vests are not as readily available there," Smith said. "I think that kind of goes back to tradition. With bobbies, many of them aren't even armed."

Torrance police officers, on the other hand, have worn bulletproof vests for about 15 years.

The program is virtually cost-free to the city, with Virgin Atlantic Airways volunteering to fly the vests to London. Torrance's contribution is due to ship within the next two weeks, Smith said.

Although manufacturers recommend that the vests be retired after five years, studies show they can probably last as long as 10 years. But any U.K. officer wanting a vest will first be asked to sign a waiver of liability in case the vest doesn't hold up.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

"I want (the vote counting) to be done. I feel like I've been in a very long labor."

--Republican candidate Susan Brooks, whose race against Rep. Jane Harman (D-Rolling Hills) in the 36th Congressional District will be decided by absentee ballots that still have not all been verified. J4

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