One thing that my church sponsors this time of year is an Alternative Gift Market (I know that some other churches do this, too).
The idea is to purchase something that will really make a difference in someone’s life, rather than finding that obscure and expensive gift for the person who already “has everything”.
The items are from many missions; they can be necessities for cleanup following a flood (Presbyterian Disaster Relief Assistance), or phone cards for hospitalized veterans (VFW Operation Uplink), or pencils and pens for school kids in Haiti (Haiti Education Foundation).
There are water purification systems, non-surgical pain medications, a flock of chickens for poverty-stricken people overseas. When you “purchase” these things, you get a pamphlet explaining the organization that carries it out.
Then there are all sorts of actual items you can purchase and take with you: woven crafts from Guatemala, olive wood carvings from East Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Gaza, jewelry, scarves and recycled household items from other low-income countries. One of the most irresistible “take-homes” for me comes from Equal Exchange, which sells coffees, chocolates and teas. Did I mention chocolates?
One look at the brochures and videos that are put together by these ministries, and your heart will no longer pine for that big screen TV, or the extra sweater. Even small gifts make such a difference in the lives of those who have so little. Items can cost as little as $5.
My church’s Alternative Gift Market (AGM) is still open through Dec. 7. I’m attaching links for the brochure and order form.
Happy holidays! Jane–