Christmas Fair a chance to do a ‘really kind thing’

With $10, Habitat for Humanity Mesa County can buy a box of nails. For $2 more, Agape Food Basket can buy a case of peanut butter. And $15 at Marillac Clinic means medication assistance for an uninsured, low-income patient.

So, think of the potential, and think of Christmas! Does anyone you know really need another Drakkar Noir gift set? Consider that with $20, Kids Aid can provide one child with food on the weekends for a month.

It’s those kind of options that will define the 22nd-annual Alternative Christmas Fair, being held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday at the Lincoln Park Barn. The fair brings together 20 local and 30 national and international nonprofit organizations that will offer information about the work they do and those they serve. Fair attendees can donate to any or all organizations as an alternative Christmas present for friends and family, and receive a Christmas card to give to said friends or family explaining the donation and the organization.

“Our goal is just to give people an opportunity to do a really kind thing,” said Julie Mamo, executive director of Grand Valley Peace and Justice, which sponsors the Alternative Christmas Fair.

She said a criterion for the participating organizations is that they must be direct-service in addition to being nonprofit: “You have to be out there making a difference in the community so the funds that are given go directly to the people that you are serving,” Mamo explained.

Local participating organizations include the Hispanic Affairs Project, Cats League and Assistance, Grand Valley Catholic Outreach, the Western Slope Center for Children and Community Food Bank. Ten of the local participating nonprofits have decorated Christmas trees for a silent auction at the fair. “We made our decorations out of the containers that the food comes to us in — margarine boxes and can lids, things like that,” said Gai Wildermuth-Gunter, program coordinator for Community Food Bank. She said she hopes whoever buys the tree will donate it back to the food bank, so it can be raffled and given to one of the bank’s clients.

The Alternative Christmas Fair will feature Ugandan arts and crafts for sale, to benefit Light Gives Heat, and Cafe Justo Fair Trade Coffee, to benefit the Sheepherder Project. Grand Valley Peace and Justice also will sell fair-trade cocoa, tea and chocolate. There will be face painting for children and a petting zoo, as well.

Alternative Christmas gift-donations also can be bought through Dec. 14 at the Grand Valley Peace and Justice website,


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