How the Alternative Gift Christmas Market works...
For 35 years, the Alternative Gift Christmas Market has brought the true spirit of Christmas to OLA by offering an antidote to the "consumerism" of the holidays. Participants are given the opportunity to give the gift of a donation to the poor to the friends and family on their Christmas shopping list. At the same time, they are educated about outreach programs that serve the poor and suffering through assisting with basic needs: water, food, shelter, education/training, and employment. In the weeks prior to Christmas, the Alternative Gift Christmas Market offers an opportunity to parishioners and friends to donate to local, national and international programs. Donors receive a Christmas card that includes a description of the project as a “gift” to give to relatives or friends at Christmas in place of a material gift.
This year, the Market runs from November through the Monday before Christmas Day, Dec. 21. “Shopping lists” identifying all the projects for the year are placed in parish bulletin (Nov. 15) and copies are available throughout the market period at the parish office. Also, Christmas cards for giving to family and friends are available through the parish office.
For questions, contact Monica Awad at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Beginning with the efforts of the Rev. Harriet Pritchard, a local pastor and a friend of longtime OLA pastor, Msgr. William Barry, to reach children of her church with an “alternative” to the commercialization of Christmas, the market has touched people’s hearts across the nation and around the world. The national organization, Alternative Gifts International (AGI), now provides support and review to over 40 national and international projects which are presented annually to local markets, such as OLA’s. Local markets may add a number of local organizations to their market offerings. At OLA, George Gould (dec.) gathered a group of interested parishioners who organized the market much as it is today. Several generations of OLA parishioners and families have now contributed to the continuing success of the market.
For next year: The Market Committee has a job for everyone interested. Preparations begin in June when the parish begins work on its calendar for the year and continues through the following January when final tabulations and distributions of donations are made to the shopping list organizations. In this time period, lots of communication and preparation goes on from contacting local organizations, inventorying and ordering “gift” cards, publicity, recruiting volunteers, preparing the shopping list for the year, to setting up of the market, staffing market day (cashiers, calligraphers, information, project table staffing), and counting and recording donations. There are opportunities for as much a gift of time and talent as one has available from a few hours on market day to working with the committee from July to January.