Tammy Tidwell went from shopper to volunteer at the annual Wichita Alternative Gift Market.
“Whether you are here to buy or work a booth, we are all here to make a little bit of difference in the world,” she said.
An “alternative gift” is a donation to a good cause that you make in somebody’s honor instead of giving them a traditional gift. In return, you receive a greeting card that you present to the honoree, describing the project supported. You also get a complimentary holiday ornament representing the cause. There are 30 to choose from.
The market, now in its 24th year, takes place 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 10, at University Congregational Church, 9209 E. 29th St. N. Nine more churches and AARP are among the event sponsors. Affiliated with Alternative Gifts International, a nonprofit organized in 1986, Wichita’s market is one of the largest in the nation.
Last year, the Alternative Market raised $35,000. Seven local nonprofits received grants of $3,000 each: Episcopal Migration Ministries, Family Promise, Head-to-Toe Hygiene Pantry, Heartspring, Gardens at West High School, Wichita Circles Network, and Wichita Family Crisis Center. Other money went to projects ranging from books for mobile libraries in Ethiopia to pig pens and fish ponds for the hill tribes of Thailand.
Booths offer the opportunity to learn about projects around the world that target poverty and suffering. Young shoppers can take part with a kids’ shopping list.
In addition to alternative gifts, Ten Thousand Village will sell artisan crafts, wall calendars, fair-trade chocolate and coffee, with the proceeds supporting the Returned Peace Corps Volunteers of Kansas. Breakfast and lunch are available, as is child care for younger children.