Alternative gifts benefit charities
As Nov. 10 draws near, hope increases that this year’s Alternative Gift Market will prove fruitful.
Erica Richmond wants to get her family involved early.
“We like having the kids involved so the can see there are people who live differently from us,” she said.
The alternative gifts are ornaments made by local residents, and are sold to benefit organizations for people in need. While money raised does go to those in poverty, the charities take the process a step further because they can teach sustainable skills.
Causes range from teaching life skills and safe recycling practices in Egypt, to rescuing children from sex trafficking in Asia.
The event, established by members of Marion Presbyterian Church, is in its seventh year, and fourth year at Marion City Building. Since it came to the area, the market has attracted more than 200 locals each year.
The parent organization of Alternative Gifts International has been in operation for 32 years. The organization chooses individual charities based on how relatable and financially sound they are, executive director Surinder Moore said. Based in Wichita, it averages close to $1 million raised every year between the 100 satellite sites.
Customers can donate to specific funds or make a general donation for whichever needs it most. Last year the Marion event raised $6,000 between its 32 causes. Since the church began hosting the event they have raised more than $29,000 total.
Richmond’s children help at the market by interacting with customers and deciding on a few ornaments from other stalls for the family to buy. In 2017, Noah got the chance to educate others on what the family’s cause was.
“I would let him explain,” Richmond said. “As people come by, they want to know what your project is and who it’s helping.”
Her children weren’t the only ones Richmond wanted to get involved, she also convinced both her younger sisters to take part.
Alternative Gifts maintains a strong domestic presence as well. This year they are providing assistance for hurricane and flood victims in the U.S., and getting Native American youth involved in the fields of science, technology, education, and math.
Locally, the market has donated $4,000 to the Marion Food Bank over the past four years.
According to Moore, what makes it special is that those donating can see the difference their donations make.
Last modified Oct. 31, 2018