Church offers an alternative plan for holiday gifts

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First Presbyterian’s Alternative Gift Market provides charitable options for your shopping list to address the true meaning of giving.

By Nathan L. McBroom

A local church hopes to spread goodwill this holiday season by selling Christmas gifts that are a blessing to more than just those who receive them.

This Sunday, from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., the First Presbyterian Church of Shelbyville will host its  annual Alternative Gift Market, where patrons can donate money to various local, national and international charities on behalf of friends and family on their Christmas lists.

Libby Pollett, who is helping organize the event, said those who come to the market would have the opportunity to hear about the important work that various charities do in the community and across the globe.

Representatives from the charities will be there to inform patrons about the nature of their work and accept donations on behalf of those for whom you’re shopping.

Pollett said by understanding the different ways that each charity provides aid and assistance, the shoppers can select which charity that best would honor of each person, making the donations personalized and meaningful, she said.  

Once a donation has been made the shopper receives a card indicating the name of the charity, the amount given in their honor and a brief description of how that money would be used.

“It puts the joy back in giving,” she said. “It’s not just giving them something nice. It’s giving them the knowledge that somebody’s life could have been changed by their gift.”

Pollett, who said she does much of her own Christmas shopping at the event, said in the past she has donated money in honor of her grandson to a charity that helped a young child receive a prosthetic arm.

“So many gifts that we give are temporary,” she said. “These gifts are truly meaningful, personal, and they have longevity.”

Pollett said the idea is simple: It is more blessed to give than to receive.

“Too many of us have more than we need, and this is a great time of year to think of others and how we can help,” she said. “It is such a blessing to know that you have been a blessing.”

Some of the charities that will participate Sunday include The Dorman Center, Operation Care, Arriba Ninos, Shelby County Humane Society, Lifebridge for Animals, Shelby County Drug & Alcohol Prevention, A Place to Sleep [providing beds and bedding for Shelby County students], The Backpack Project, Heifer International, Habitat for Humanity, Medical Benevolence Foundation, A Healing Place and several others.

This is the sixth year that the First Presbyterian has sponsored the Alternative Gift. Last year gifts purchased totaled over $8,000.

Pollett said she attended a similar type event in Dallas several years ago, and it made her consider the true meaning of Christmas.

That’s when she said she knew that she had to help bring such an event to the local community.

Since the event has come to Shelbyville, Pollett has herself received these types gifts for Christmas. She said receiving a donation in her honor was a most precious gift.

Along with being a great idea for Christmas, Pollett encouraged shoppers to think about giving these gifts as Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and birthday gifts as well.