SWAHP gears up for Alternative Giving fair

Marie Jeruc

Even the most talented and creative shoppers dread finding the perfect gift for that friend or family member who seemingly has everything. So this year, instead of purchasing an item just for the sake of satisfying the present-giving ritual, “buy” a gift at the Alternative Giving Fair.

Although the holiday season may currently seem a safe distance away, SWAHP’s Alternative Giving Fair on Nov. 13 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., will provide an opportunity to find unique gifts that also benefit charity.

Students Working Against Hunger and Poverty will host its annual Alternative Giving Fair on the second floor of the Warch Campus Center. The gifts available at the fair include handmade, fair trade items, but also include opportunities to donate to a charitable cause in someone else’s name.

Some of the fair trade items available for purchase are actually provided by Lawrence students who went to Sierra Leone. They came back with goods that are handmade by the people with whom they interacted in Africa.

A local shop on College Avenue, Globally Sound, provides some of the other items available at the fair. Globally Sound buys and sells fair trade items from around the world that encourage fair wages and working conditions and environmental sustainability.

Aside from the fair trade goods sale, charitable donations create a large portion of the fair. These donations to charity reflect the name of the fair, since they are “alternative” gifts. According to SWAHP President Mariah Mateo, the Alternative Giving Fair “allows you to give someone something that’s meaningful, not material.”

The Alternative Giving Fair is composed of booths hosted by different campus organizations that choose a specific cause. Their booths serve as representations of an individual charity each organization provides information on the cause. Customers will receive a “shopping list,” which includes all of the represented causes. After a customer decides on which to donate to, he or she will then go to the “check out counter.” At this counter, cards are available for writing to the person in whose name the donation was made.

Mateo stresses that this fair encourages shoppers not to be intimidated about donating. Mateo explained, “Even a $10 donation is significant gift; you don’t need to make a huge donation to make a difference.” Additionally, the booths will detail what different donations can do to benefit those in need.

One of the charitable organizations represented at the fair include the Caneille Regional Foundation. This foundation was actually created by Lawrence alumni and is a non-profit organization benefiting the people of Haiti.

KidsGive, a global organization of which SWAHP is an official partner, will also be represented at the fair. KidsGive was started in 2006 and promotes education about Sierra Leone in the U.S. It initiates presentations about contemporary African issues to elementary and high schools in the United States. This organization teaches U.S. students how to fundraise for children and schools in Sierra Leone. Ultimately, it encourages informed giving and according to Mateo, “empowers young students to become leaders.”

SWAHP involves itself with global organizations to combat hunger and poverty, but it also addresses these issues in the local community. SWHAP works continuously with the Emergency Shelter of the Fox Valley to provide food and service for people in the Appleton community.

Specifically, members of SWAHP help prepare and serve meals every Friday night from 7 p.m. until 9 p.m. at the shelter.

Said Mateo, “issues of poverty in Appleton may not be as obvious as in other parts of the world.” Helping people in the local community is just as important as helping people in the global community.