When you’re a kid, Christmas can be heavy on the getting and light on the giving.
As a parent, I want my kids to learn the importance of giving, and I’m not just talking about stuff; I’m talking giving from the heart to make a difference.
Finding the right opportunity for this lesson can be hard, but last year I found a one-stop place to do it. I took my kids to an alternative giving fair.
At an alternative giving fair, you’ll find a wide variety of area charities and nonprofit groups. Make a donation, small or large, and receive a card in exchange explaining what you “bought.”
We went to the Alternative Giving Fair at Lewis-Clark State College’s Center for Arts & History, which is taking place this Saturday. Moscow has the Alternative Giving Market of the Palouse happening tonight at the 1912 Center and this weekend at the Palouse Mall.
Before we went, I explained to my then 7 year-old daughter that people at the fair helped make our town a better place by helping. She would have $15 to spend with whatever groups she chose. The money would help the people at the fair help others.
Tables at the fair were set up with representatives who were happy to talk to kids about the things they do. My daughter asked many questions, and I was surprised by how carefully she considered the answers.
At an alternative giving fair, donations are often well-defined. For example, at last year’s fair $10 bought a warm pair of pajamas for a child or adult at the YWCA, while $5 bought vaccines for a dog or cat through Helping Hands Rescue or a hot meal for a shut-in from Meals on Wheels. Not only does this help kids understand what their money does, it teaches them something about how people work together to take care of problems in a community.
She made her donations, choosing to help animals and the elderly, and we left with our cards explaining what we’d bought. We tucked them in among presents for cousins so that amidst the mayhem of Christmas morning unwrapping, others might pause for a moment to think of a different kind of gift.
IF YOU GO
In Lewiston, the Alternative Giving Fair is from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 9, at the Lewis-Clark State College Center for Arts & History and includes crafts, music, coffee and cocoa at 415 Main St.
In Moscow, the Palouse Alternative Giving Market will be open from 4 to 8 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 7, at the 1912 Center, 412 E. Third St.; and 2:30 to 6 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 9, at the Palouse Mall. Online donations can be made through Dec. 15 at agmpalouse.org.