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Doing good for others: Alternative Gift Market

Mary Wicks is a member of the Alternative Gift Market planning committee. The market contains both items for sale as well as projects that accept donations. Projects are explained by volunteers at the market through the use of posters, costuming and artifacts.

Ellen Pill

What if there was a way to pay it forward, do a little good in the world, let those you care about know you care without giving them something they will feel obligated to wear or dust, do all your holiday shopping and enjoy lunch downtown, all in one afternoon and in one place?
The upcoming Alternative Gift Market in Wooster can do all that and more. The community event will be held on Sunday, Dec. 3 from noon to 2:30 p.m. at Trinity United Church of Christ, 150 E. North St., Wooster.
"I think for a lot of us we have more things than we need, and we just keep accumulating because people want to show they care," said Mary Wicks, a member of the Alternative Gift Market planning committee who has been involved with the project for more than 10 years.
Of the Alternative Gift Market, Wicks said, "It's a place where you can come and purchase gifts, and it's also a donation to causes that provide a hand up to people throughout the world."
Alternative Gifts International is the parent group of markets all over the world. In 30 seasons of giving, Alternative Gifts International has raised more than $29 million for people in crisis and for environmental needs.
This year's projects range from donating to pay for tutoring for children in the Mississippi Delta to helping fund traveling dental clinics through the United States. There is a project that provides bicycles for kids, teachers and health-care workers in sub-Saharan Africa and one funding cervical cancer screenings in Tanzania. The list of projects is extensive, and all the projects are completely explained.
"The projects selected address education, environment, poverty, hunger and medical needs," said Nancy Lilburn, the event coordinator.
Lilburn and Wicks agreed part of the fun of shopping for alternative gifts is finding a project that matches an interest or special connection with the recipient. There are projects to match a wide variety of ages and interests with truly something for everyone. Donations are made in affordable increments of $5. Each gift comes with a card that can be given to the recipient.
"This year we will have gift cards," Lilburn said. With a gift card a donation may be made, and the gift recipient can go online and choose a project him or herself.
The market also offers some fair trade options for those who prefer to wrap up a gift. Kidron's World Crafts will bring a wide assortment of fair trade gift items, and there will be coffee, tea, chocolate and local maple syrup available for purchase.
Proceeds from the soup and pie lunch will be donated locally to benefit People to People, Meals Together, the Salvation Army and Trinity's Breakfast Program.
Attending the Alternative Gift Market is about more than shopping. "Beyond purchasing a gift, it's about education and the uplifting experience of seeing how much good is being done in the world by so many," Wicks said.
"In my experience the recipients of these gifts are always so pleased and honored to be remembered in this way," Lilburn said.
Many employers will match donations made to a nonprofit. If you are part of such a program, complete your shopping and then send the completed form to Alternative Gifts International. For more information about matching gifts or anything else related to the program, go to www.alternativegifts.org.
More groups are welcome to join in the market planning for next year. For more information or to make a pot of soup for the lunch, call Lilburn at 330-234-6848.

Published: November 21, 2017
New Article ID: 2017171119995