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The Alternative Gift Fair: A Great Way to Give Back to your Community

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By: Aditi Evans

Takoma Park, Md.– The Takoma Park Alternative Gift Fair, held on December 7 in the Takoma Park Presbyterian Church Gym, is where you can give gifts- only not with presents, but donations to different organizations from around the world.

The Alternative Gift Fair has 16 different organizations you can donate to. Most of them are small, direct service charities that have local representatives. They are often recommended to the organizers by shoppers or volunteers. 

The event is very festive, with live music from local musicians, kids arts and crafts, free massages, cookie decorating, bake sale, and a raffle with about 1,000 dollars in local gift certificates and prizes. 

An Alternative Gift Fair organizer, Mimi Ikle-Khalsa said that the event is “a great, stress free way for people to do their holiday shopping in a fun, easy, and beautiful location with lots of options to meet their gift-giving needs.”

Another nice thing about the Alternative Gift Fair is that it is about the holidays, not religion, so it is not purely Christmas themed but open to all religions. 

The Alternative Gift Fair was created in the fall of 1998, and was spearheaded by the people working for the Center for a New American Dream.

They wanted to support their “Simplify the Holidays” program that encourages people to make the most of the holiday season by creating fun, family friendly, and stress free events. In 2004, after a few years of trying to find sponsors for the fair, the Alternative Gifts of Greater Washington (AGGW) was formed as an all volunteer, nonprofit group to organize, support and fund the fairs in the DC area.

The Alternative Gift Fair, according to Ikle-Khalsa, takes about a year and a half to organize, execute, and set up. There is a core group of about 6 volunteers who work from January to August, with about 40 other members helping the first week in December to help advertise and run the fairs.  

You donate by selecting gifts from a shopping list. Each organization has a high and low priced item to choose from. The volunteers take care of the credit card fees, so 100 percent of the money donated goes to the organization(s) of your choice.

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