The Coast News Group

Gift fair offers alternative holiday choices

SOLANA BEACH — Looking for something important to share this holiday? Would you like to protect the Brazilian rainforests or provide Yak milk for rural orphans in China? Or maybe you really want to purchase a bicycle for the holidays – a bicycle for healthcare workers in Namibia.Holiday gifts that will make a difference for people who live around the world from Ethiopia to Burma to Solana Beach can be purchased at the Alternative Christmas Market. Now in its 27th year, the Alternative Christmas Market (ACM) is open to online shoppers at The live market with 32 different organizations will be open from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Nov. 18 at Solana Beach Presbyterian Church, 120 Stevens Ave., Solana Beach. All of the continents, with the exception of Australia and Antarctica are represented by the organizations, some of which are faith-based, while some are not.

“All of them are well-known entities who have stellar track records of effective work,” Tom Theriault, outreach pastor, said. “Many people not part of our church find the ACM to be a very meaningful way to give gifts that count.”

Local projects represented at the market include educational support programs, medical and dental programs for the working poor, help for the homeless, holiday presents for foster children, and support of local military. International projects range from protecting the environment to training midwives in Israel and Palestine to rescuing girls from sex traffickers in Southeast Asia. Gifts start at $5. For example: $5 buys one concrete block for an Ethiopian school or a bag of nails for a new home in Tijuana; $30 buys a bag of groceries for a local family; $20 buys 10 chicks for a rural family; $25 buys anti-malaria medicine for four pregnant women in Burma; $11 buys a share in a yak – or you can buy the whole yak for $440.

“Christmas is about a lot more than buying more stuff for those who already have stuff,” Theriault said. “Christmas is about giving life to those who are struggling in this life.”