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Alternate Gift Fair Has Big Impact

It is Alternative Gift Fair time again! Every year Sarah Circle offers a variety of items that will help people in the developing world. Some of these items are from the Presbyterian Giving Catalog and some have been identified by Jonathan’s House orphanage in Central African Republic as important needs.

We asked Barb Hawkins, Alternative Gift Fair coordinator, how this mission came about:

One of the members of Sarah Circle had family members living in California, belonging to a church that did an Alternative Gift Fair. Since they did not return to Iowa at Christmas time

for gift exchanging, they chose to give money for an “alternative gift” that reflected their interests such as a sewing machine for quilting mother, farm tools for farmer dad, bicycle for outdoorsman brother, books for schoolteacher sister. So, ten years ago Sarah Circle decided to offer this at FPC using the gift list from Church World Service. We have made some changes through the years and now offer items from The Presbyterian Giving Catalog and provisions for Jonathan’s House for Orphans in Central African Republic. Many people say they don’t want or need anything, so this has grown every year as we offer an alternative way to show care.

Hawkins also shared about the impact the Alternative Gift Fair has had:

This is the 15th year of Alternative Gift Fair. Through generous giving we are at almost $63,000 in gifts given. More important than the number of dollars is the thousands that have been helped. A favorite gift is a flock (usually a dozen) of chickens. So, through the years hundreds of chickens have been given and consequently thousands of eggs, plus eventually meat and feathers. Another favorite is providing lunches for the school students at Jonathan’s House. A conservative guesstimate would be 75,000 lunches for the year in a 9-month school year. Plumpynut has saved the lives of many babies. At the end of September at Jonathan’s House for Orphans there were 12 newborns and 10 toddlers, so the gift of formula has been important. The gifts of fishing kits (net, line, and radar) and sewing machines help provide occupations to support families and work in the communities. Water filters, and vitamins have helped improve health.

Sarah Circle is also offering Christmas ornaments and church cookbooks from several years ago for a free will donation. Money given for those items will be sent to Jonathan’s House for the greatest need.

The Alternative Gift Fair will run through December 17. The gift list is available here. If you would like to purchase a gift, you may do so on Sunday mornings after worship in the Narthex, or you may contact the church office for assistance.


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