A few weekend ago the husband and I ventured out to attend an alternative gift fair. Basically what it was is a gymnasium filled with tables hosted by non-profit organizations, food and charities. Each table had some sort of display and/or literature which gave a description of what their mission was, how they were helping and why they did what they did. In addition to that they each had a cards up that said for a certain amount of money specified your money could be used to provide a certain service or product (i.e. mosquito nets). In most cases it was astonishing to see just how much could be done to help others for a small sum of money.
This was our first alternative gift fair and I have to say at first I was overwhelmed. I wanted to help everyone. At every single table I approached a kind-hearted smiling face was eager to answer my questions and offer a little bit of information about their group. While I didn't feel that anybody "pushed" their needs upon me, it was intense all the same. The amount of need out there is incredible. Now of course I realized this before hand but seeing it displayed so readily in one place really drove home the sentiment.
When I expressed this to the husband he put it quite simply, "you can't give your time and money to everyone so at least give to someone because at least you're giving at all." Good point, hubby, good point. So we made another round of the tables, taking in the aromas of the food made by resturaunts and organizations willing to give their profits to charities. We purchased an ornament from 10,000 villages a local fair trade shop and I ogled the vibrant bracelets made by struggling women in foreign villages. Again we took in exactly what was being offered by each group, asking our final questions before picking out where we could best place the money and time that we had to offer. Image Found Here
Before leaving we picked out our organization and the exact priced "gift" we wanted to give them and under who's name the donation would be made. We were then given an equal amount of cards with a brief description of what an alternative gift fair is and exactly what was donated and to who. Now this year, my two best friends, who are some of the most generous people I know will be presented with the knowledge that they are helping to stop sex-trafficking and giving aid to a struggling third-world community. I have a feeling that the warmth and comfort that this "paying it forward" movement gave to us will be passed on to them as well.
So please keep alternative gift giving in mind. If you're low on cash, looking to buy something with meaning and wishing that everyone was able to have a little something extra this year, it just may be the best option for you as it was for us.
For more information check out Gifts that Gift Hope.