Arts and Entertainment

On South Whidbey, buy a different kind of holiday gift: giving

For people looking to spend holiday money on a donation, fair trade beads or a book which will use its sales to help build preschools in South Africa, South Whidbey has two options this winter.

Global giving will come to two South End churches this month, the first of which is Sunday, Dec. 1, at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Whidbey Island.

The Freeland congregation’s African market will feature items from South Africa, Uganda and Zimbabwe.

Next week, a similar market will take over part of the Langley United Methodist Church. From 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 8, people can peruse Fellowship Hall for a plethora of presents.

“This is the time that lots of us in the U.S. are looking for gifts,” said the Rev. Dennis Reynolds, pastor of the Whidbey Unitarian congregation. “These are alternative gifts.”

The two events, though separated by both distance and time, are related in their aim to shift holiday consumerism into a useful expense. All of the money from the purchases will go to the agency that sold them.

Rather than inexpensive jewelry that may soon be forgotten, the Unitarian church will offer Zulu beadwork from South Africa. In honor of World AIDS Day on Dec. 1, three African organizations will benefit from the sales at the Unitarian congregation: bead sales help preschools in South Africa, book profits will aid children in Uganda; and money from fabric and woven basket purchases help children in Zimbabwe.

A week later and several miles south, a similar event — though one that’s operated for nine years — will be at the Langley United Methodist Church. The three African groups from the earlier market will offer their wares, as well as Whidbey nonprofits such as Hearts & Hammers, Friends of Friends Medical Support Fund, the Good Cheer Food Bank, Heifer Project, Ryan’s House For Youth, Red Cross - Islands Chapter, South Whidbey Tilth and Enso House.

People can buy goods or make donations to those groups and more at the Langley church’s market, which raised $1,681 last year.

“This is a good opportunity (for holiday shopping),” said Eve Carty, program coordinator at Langley United Methodist Church. “People can get it done in one stop.”

People can also receive a card for their donation.

For the churches’ leaders, opening their doors to groups looking to capitalize on the holiday giving spirit was a simple decision.

“These are faith communities that believe what we give can be an expression of our faiths,” Reynolds said.


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