Alternative Christmas gifts buy food for hungry, care for sick
Does that person on your Christmas list who has everything really need any more stuff?
In the true reason for the season, giving to those less fortunate can mean so much more than yet another pair of slippers, a gift basket or a generic gift certificate.
That’s the thinking behind gifts that may be purchased Sunday at the Alternative Christmas Fair at Lincoln Park Barn. The nonprofit Grand Valley Peace and Justice is celebrating its 20th fair with more than 50 offerings of nonmaterial gifts or donations that go to a good cause.
“It’s for every budget large and small,” Grand Valley Peace and Justice Director Karen Sjoberg said. “You can donate $100 or $5.”
Sixteen local charities and 40 international charities will be represented at the event.
For example, a donation of $5 can feed one migrant farm worker a home-cooked meal through the nonprofit Child & Migrant Services in Palisade.
Or, a gift of $15 can feed and shelter a homeless pet for a day at Roice-Hurst Humane Society. A donation of $50 will provide one spay or neuter operation for a dog or a cat.
Gift-givers can donate money for medical supplies and wheelchairs that will go to a relief effort for victims of the Haiti’s earthquake.
For $12, an organization will plant 10 trees there to rebuild forests.
School District 51 students investigate international charities and will be at the event to answer gift-givers’ questions about how the donations will be used. Students do research on the developing countries.
Sjoberg said she sees some families return year after year.
Some sit down and really focus on giving meaningful donations in the names of loved ones.
“In many ways people are more thoughtful about these gifts,” she said. “It’s really sweet to see people sitting down and thinking about what they want to give.”
Fair trade and organic coffee and tea will be for sale, and refreshments will be served. Some gifts made by people in developing countries will be for sale, with proceeds helping them improve their quality of life.
In line with the alternative theme, a Nigerian “Santa Claus” will ask children what they are giving for the holidays, instead of asking what they would like to receive.
Last year’s event raised $30,000, and $16,000 went to local charities, Sjoberg said.
This year may be more important to give as nonprofits are struggling to meet needs, she said.
“We’ve just got to work as hard as we can to earn some money in the spirit of the season,” Sjoberg said.