By Ana Knauf – Cougar News Staff Writer
Does Uncle Bill really need another Christmas-themed tie? Are you really looking forward to a third itchy, mustard-colored wool sweater from Aunt Mildred?
Why not purchase a mosquito net that could protect children from catching malaria, a container to keep drinking water sanitary, or a sewing machine to bring money to an impoverished community instead?
Rather than buying presents that will sit in the closet and be eaten by moths, Santa Clarita locals paid St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church a visit for the second annual Alternative Gift Fair.
Mary Jo Higgenbotham, Chairperson of the Alternative Gift Fair, believes that privileged people—those that have a roof over their heads, their health, their family, and much more—already “have enough stuff.” Higgenbotham said that the purpose of the fair, aside from raising awareness about humanitarian efforts around the world, is for people to “buy a gift, give [the gift] to someone, and help someone else at the same time.”
The Santa Clarita Shelter, an animal rescue organization, was present. At their booth, they had a portfolio of the animals that have been adopted and rescued from abusive homes. Instead of selling PETA products or plush toys for kids to fundraise, SCS welcomed donations anywhere from $5 to $350 to pay for food and care products for the animals. In return, shoppers received a boxed card with the amount donated and the donator’s name as a small “thank you.”
A glossy photograph web attracted visitors to the Knock Foundation’s table at the Alternative Gift Fair. “Their smiles were not because we were taking their pictures . . . it’s because they are smiling all the time,” said Barry Krowne, director and founder of the organization. The Knock Foundation was giving candy in return for donations that would go to health care, orphanages, education, and self-sustaining work for the people of Tanzania.
By participating in the Alternative Gift Fair, visitors gave the most valuable gift of all: life.