Instead of buying a relative a new shirt or candle, one event is giving shoppers the chance to buy a prescription for a sick child or a meal for a homeless veteran.
“An alternative gift fair is the gift that gives twice,” said Tara Bibb, a volunteer and organizer for the Gifts that Give Hope event in Arlington. “In this economy, it’s a perfect gift because people want to buy wisely and they want to reduce the focus on consumerism.”
The event hosted at the Calvary United Methodist Church in Arlington is now in its second year locally, Bibb said. Nationally, the Pennsylvania-based Gifts that Give Hope organization raised over $200,000 last year.
Shoppers gather to meet and explore 15 nonprofits all based in and around Arlington. They record where they want to make a donation on a friend or family member's behalf and receive a holiday card with a description of their donation.
To get an idea of how it works, for $50 a shopper can spay or neuter a pet at the Animal Welfare League of Arlington, or $30 could pay for fresh fruit and vegetables to nourish 50 children living in a homeless shelter.
Costs range from $5 to $250. Last year’s event raised $7,000 for area charities, Bibb said.
The fair also features a companion shopping event for children. Children bring their piggie banks and can give items like a teddy bear to a sick child.
“They also personalize their own Christmas cards,” Bibb said. “It helps show them the true spirit of giving.”
The event is free to attend and takes place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday at the Calvary United Methodist Church, 2315 S. Grant St.
If you can’t make the event, the group is also allowing shoppers to make donations at the Gifts that Give Hope — Arlington website, where you can also view a list of the organizations involved.