REEDSVILLE - As the holiday season approaches, a Reedsville church is trading traditional gift options for donations that can change lives.
The fourth annual Alternative Gift Fair at East Kishacoquillas Presbyterian Church offers shoppers the opportunity to give a meaningful gift and offer a donation to local and national organizations at the same time.
Event organizer Cassie Campbell said shoppers can make donations to organizations that match the interests of friends and family members.
Photo submitted by JENE MERTZ
Brenda Peightel, left, presents an alternative gift card to Gay Rodgers Sunday while Marilee McNitt and Bailey McNitt look on.
"When you're giving this gift, you're thinking of the other person... their interests, their passions... and helping to push it forward for someone else," she said.
Jene Mertz, also helping to organize the event, said the idea is to keep the spiritual focus to the holiday season by supporting groups that offer community and humanitarian services.
"It is a gift that keeps on giving," Campbell said.
Fifteen organizations will be represented at the fair this year: The Abuse Network, Habitat for Humanity, Mifflin-Juniata United Way, Shelter Services Inc., Rescue Our Furry Friends, Reedsville-Milroy Meals on Wheels, Mifflin County and Juniata County Pet Food Pantry, Mifflin County 4-H, Reedsville Volunteer Fire Company, Mother Hubbard's Cupboard, LUMINA Center, Friends of the Mifflin County Library, Santa's Bookbag, Smile Train and Heifer International.
While most of the organizations are local, Mertz said the inclusion of Smile Train and Heifer International was a way to recognize deserving groups doing good work around the world.
"We liked the local places but we also felt that we, in this country, are so blessed that to ignore the issues further around the world was really neglecting people that need serious help there too," she said.
The Alternative Gift Fair will be held from 1 to 4 p.m. Dec. 2, with a food stand opening at noon at the church in Reedsville.
As shoppers arrive, they will receive a donation form that lists each participating organization. Mertz said shoppers may walk around to visit with representatives from each group and ask questions about the organization or how donations will be used.
After shoppers decide which groups to support, they can fill out the form and write a single check to the church for their donations. Donors will receive acknowledgement cards to give as a gift to their special someone.
Mertz said the full-size gift cards include a smaller business card listing the name of the organization that received a donation.
In previous years, the fair raised thousands of dollars for participating organizations, and Mertz said she hopes the fair will do just as well this year.
"We're just amazed by the support that has been offered...if we can increase this, even more money goes out to the community to do good things," she said.
In case of bad weather, or for shoppers who are unable to attend, the donation form is also available online at www.eastkish.org. Forms should be mailed by Dec. 15 so that cards can be mailed to donors before the holiday.
"(The fair) truly hits on what Christmas is about," Campbell said.
Equal Exchange coffee, tea and chocolates will also be available for sale at the fair. Mertz said the system ensures that farmers receive a fair portion of profits from the sale of goods.