"The idea behind the market is to provide people with an opportunity to buy Christmas gifts that will help programs that help people who need food or medical care, special housing and programs, and also that help the environment they live in," said Truly Mount, a parishioner who is in her third year as director of the market.
Shoppers will be able to select from 11 organizations to which they can donate money in the name of a loved one or friend, Mount said. The donation becomes the gift, and a gift card is sent to the person in whose name the donation is given, she said.
"It's not only a good alternative for people who want to give things other than the usual Christmas merchandise, but it also is a good way to teach children that Christmas is not just about getting gifts that provide immediate satisfaction but it also is about giving things that really help other people and for a long time," she said.
The organizations - most are Presbyterian missions or ministries but some are international programs - include the following:
* A disaster assistance program for places hit by natural and man-made disasters.
* A hunger relief program for people in need of food and water.
* An international health ministry for people in need of basic health care.
* A ministry on the Texas-Mexico border assisting Mexicans going to and from the United States.
* A "living waters" water purification program for places where clean water is in short supply.
* A program for needy children in India.
* The Buckhorn home for children in eastern Kentucky.
* The Bellewood home for children in Louisville.
* The Freear's Hope Tea program for cancer patients (the name of the program comes from a special tea that was developed by Elmwood Inn and named after a cancer survivor).
* The Heifer program to provide animals for livestock and transportation needs in Third World countries.
* The Mercy Ships program to provide medical care for medically underserved people around the world.
As an example of the impact of a person's donation, Mount cited the Heifer program.
"The Heifer program has grown in international reputation as an organization that benefits populations in need of livestock that provide a continual supply of food or that provide transportation and help with work," Mount said.
"You can buy all or part of a cow or a goat or a sheep or a pig, or a flock or part of a flock of ducks, geese or chicks, and whatever animal or other Heifer program item will be sent to people who really need it."
Shopping day: How it works
The way the market works is that each shopper is given a shopping list with the names of the 11 organizations on it, said Mount. The shopper can find out more about the organizations by visiting the display tables or asking volunteers for information, she said.
Once the shopper has decided which organization or organizations to donate to, he or she goes to a cashier's table and tells the volunteer clerk the organizations and the amounts to be donated and then makes the donation, Mount said.
In exchange for the donation, the clerk will prepare a gift card to be sent to a friend or loved one in whose name the donation was given, Mount said.
"You can give any amount you would like to whatever organization or organizations to which you want to give," she said.
However, Mount said the Heifer program has a price list for more than a dozen kinds of animals and other items. For example, a heifer costs $500; a water buffalo, $250; a goat or a sheep, $120; honeybees, $30; and a flock of chicks, geese or ducks, $20.
Mount said she doubts anyone who shops at the alternative gift market will get buyer's remorse or anyone who receives a gift card will get recipient's disappointment.
"I think everyone who makes a donation will feel good about buying a gift that will actually help people, and I think the people receiving the gift cards will feel good about a gift that helps people being given in their name," she said.
* * *
If you go:
What: Gift Market for Alternative Giving
When: 9-11 a.m. and noon-2 p.m. Sunday; church youth will provide a chili lunch at noon.
Where: Fellowship Hall at The Presbyterian Church, 500 W. Main St.
Why: To give Christmas shoppers an opportunity to buy gifts in the form of donations to help people in need.
How much: Admission is free; amount of donations for alternative gifts is up to the shoppers.