MARQUETTE — A nonprofit group is raising money to improve the lives of women while offering a chance to do some holiday shopping a little early.

The Marquette Area Zonta Club kicked off its biggest fundraiser of the year over the weekend. The Koeze Company has made gourmet nuts and fine chocolates in Grand Rapids for more than a century. The Zonta club offers the treats for sale each year.

The proceeds fund scholarships for NMU students.

“(The scholarship) means a lot,” NMU student and Zonta scholarship winner Mary Lawhead said. “It means I’ve been able to stay at Northern and be able to graduate. It means a lot. Zonta does a lot for the community.”

“It means pretty much everything to me,” NMU students and Zonta scholarship winner Krystyna Rickauer said. “It’s been helpful to have support from the Zonta Club for sure.”

The Marquette Area Zonta Club is one of more than 1,200 such clubs of business professionals around the world. Their Koeze nut sale raises well over $10,000 each year.

“We also do grants in the community,” Marquette Area Zonta Club member Kia Richmond said. “We do grants for places like the Women’s Center and Teaching Family Homes and a lot of other places, the Harbor House, and it’s a wonderful experience.”

Closner Construction of Marquette allows the Zonta Club to use its garage for pickup and delivery of the Cozy nuts each year.

Besides members making sales on their own, the nuts will be for sale at the following Marquette area locations:

— the Westwood Mall in Marquette Township

— the U.P. Catholic Credit Union, Econo Foods and Interiors By Design, all in Marquette

— the annual Christmas Craft Show at the Superior Dome on December 5th, 6th and 7th.