1st annual Alternative Giving Fair held at Lawrence

Alicia Bones

As much as Mom claims to love the ornaments you make her and as much as Dad gushes about those socks you buy him, why not get them something different this year? It’s easy to do.Saturday, Dec. 1, Students’ War Against Hunger and Poverty is sponsoring the first annual Alternative Giving Fair at Lawrence. The fair will be held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in Riverview Lounge. Attendees will be able to purchase “alternative gifts,” which are donations to charity organizations in honor of family or friends, as well as unique gifts made by people of developing countries.

SWAHP, led by juniors Jeanelle Adams and Casey Sautter and seniors Liz Corey and Samantha Gibb, have been organizing the fair since third term last year. Claudena Skran, Associate Professor of Government and Edwin & Ruth West Professor in Economics and Social Science, thought Lawrence would be an ideal site for this kind of event and brought the idea to SWAHP members.

Alternative giving fairs are common around the country. The tangible gifts come from an organization called A Greater Gift, whose mission, according to its website, is “to promote the social and economic progress of people in developing regions of the world by marketing their products in a just and direct manner.”

The alternative gifts come from Alternative Gifts International, an organization which promotes various charities and whose goal has been, according to its website, “sending gifts of peace and justice — food, shelter, trees, water, medicines — around the world since 1986.”

Attendees who donate money to an alternative gift cause receive a holiday card and information sheet about the cause that they can give to a family member or friend. Tangible gifts that will be for sale include tapestries, jewelry, and mugs. Ninety percent of the cost of these tangible gifts goes back to the people who made them.

Each booth at the fair will be sponsored by a different organization or individual encouraged by SWAHP to sponsor a cause relating to their own missions. For example, the Outdoor Recreation Club is supporting the cause of “Bikes for Women and Girls.”

This cause gives bikes to women and girls in Tanzania and Namibia so they can more easily do required household chores, leaving more time for them to pursue education.

Another cause supported by a like-minded Lawrence club is the Animal Welfare Society, in their support of Gorilla Protection in Rwanda. This charity raises money to hire patrol workers to prevent poaching of African gorillas, whose numbers have declined 70 percent in the last 10 years.

Other causes at the fair include Scholarships for Children Attending Comforti School in Sierra Leone, supported by Professor Skran; Teens with AIDS in Uganda, supported by the American Medical Student Association; and Scholarships for Nomadic Children in Kenya, supported by the Black Organization of Students.

In addition to alternative gifts, food will be provided and SoundBoard will provide musical entertainment. The list of performers is as follows:

1:00-1:25: Andre Juan
1:30-1:55: Tom Beneke
2:00-2:25: Escalator Dance Party
2:30-2:55: The Con Artists

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