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McPherson’s Annual Alternative Christmas Gift Market Supports Area Non-Profits

MCPHERSON, Kan. – As Giving Tuesday approaches, McPherson non-profits are working together to raise funds for people in need through the annual Alternative Christmas Gift Market.

Since 2005, this market has promoted honoring loved ones at Christmas with a donation in their name.  This year’s virtual market includes ten agencies, most of them local.

“Nonprofits have historically taken a scarcity mindset when it comes to fundraising – the idea that when another nonprofit receives a donation, it means less money will be given to support our own mission,” according to Austin Regier, executive director of STEP-MC.  “However, there’s research that shows this isn’t the case, and I believe our McPherson County nonprofit sector has done a good job at switching our mindsets – to being each other’s biggest cheerleaders, and to seeing the abundance of generosity McPherson has.

“ACGM represents a time where we as nonprofits can come together to celebrate that abundance and work together to support our good missions of helping people who are struggling right now,” Regier said.

ACGM donors may select any or all of the organizations, make donations of any size, and with one click (or check, if preferred), give the gift of hope.  One hundred percent of each donation goes to the charity. The market opens Nov. 20 and continues through Giving Tuesday, Nov. 29.

“I love the Alternative Christmas Gift Market,” says Karolyn Moore of the McPherson Housing Coalition.  “I like looking for different ways to give. My first experience with the market, I gave money to nonprofits for wheelchairs, seeds, chickens and a water well for people in other countries. When my family members opened their greeting card explaining the gift, I watched them cry because they were overwhelmed that this was done for them.  I have been hooked ever since.”

What might your donation buy this year?  It could be food, shelter, books, mobility, medical care, even a new outlook on life.

New to the ACGM, the McPherson Coalition for Equity, Inclusion and Diversity is working to provide a Community Fridge along side a blessing box which currently holds only non-perishable foods.  They also give books that represent the diversity in our community to local classrooms.  MCEID was incorporated in April 2021 by Tricia Warring and Josh Rice to support McPherson area organizations that encourage equity, inclusion, and diversity through events, education, awareness and community building.

A gift to Steps To End Poverty—-McPherson will help the new Oxford House for women as they provide a safe, stable place for people in recovery.  “It’s a really neat dynamic because the people who know the most about recovery, people who are in recovery, are the ones leading the house,” according to Regier.  “It will also go toward our weekly programs where we support, teach, and learn from people working to overcome poverty.”

The Oak Harbor Cottages provide safe housing and also support services for low-income families. Currently three cottages are completed, three are nearing completion, and funds raised now will go toward construction of the remaining four.  The McPherson Housing Coalition needs to raise $50,000 to match a St. Stephens’ grant which would buy the materials for the remaining cottages.

In McPherson since 1993, Habitat for Humanity has participated in the ACGM since its beginning, giving families a hand up, not a hand out, to home ownership.  Gifts this year will help complete the new construction at 435 E. Skancke or begin the next home at 515 N. Maple.

Live Free Ministries/The Omega Project is a faith-based recovery program providing housing, work opportunities and training in lifestyle transformation. The Omega Project’s discipleship homes assist those who are ready to fight through the challenges of dysfunction and addiction.

The McPherson County Food Bank has been providing food for the hungry of this county since 1983.  It is a 100% volunteer organization which serves people in our community who are struggling financially in a way that preserves their dignity.

Set Free—McPherson works to end human trafficking wherever it exists.  Human trafficking is the third largest crime industry in the world and is condemned by human rights and religious organizations alike.

Looking for a gift that goes beyond McPherson?

All terrain wheelchairs give disabled persons in developing countries mobility and dignity.  Affiliated with Mobility Worldwide, Kirby and Christine Goering’s Moundridge shop has since 2005 built hand-operated carts for some of the world’s over 70 million leg-disabled persons.  “Delivering these carts to leprosy victims who went from pulling themselves around on the ground with their arms to zipping over the rough terrain was the highlight of my trip to Ethiopia,” according to Susan Taylor, one of the event’s organizers.

The Haiti Medical Project provides mobile medical clinics in areas of Haiti where healthcare is otherwise non-existent. Physician Paul Ullom-Minnich, Moundridge, traveled to Haiti after the 2010 earthquake and realized the need for public health services.   With others he help found this project which employs All-Haitian teams of doctors, nurses and support staff, boosting the local economy as well as providing needed services.

New Community Project is a small nonprofit organization with a big goal: to change the world.    A gift to NCP could buy a sewing machine for a Rwandan woman, provide a bicycle for a school girl in Malawi or install a solar panel in the home of a Dine’ (Navajo) in New Mexico.  NCP also offers learning tours.  A trip into the Ecuadorian rain forest was “transformational,” according to Dustin Wilgers, associate professor of biology at McPherson College. “The goal of the trip was to understand how industry affects other people.  We literally followed a giant oil pipeline along the road that took us to the rainforest. It was a constant reminder of why we were there.”

More information about these organizations is featured on the Alternative Christmas Gift Market – McPherson KS Facebook page.

While the Alternative Christmas Gift Market turned into a virtual-only event in 2020 because of Covid, organizers would like to return to an in-person market next year with each agency having a booth to share their story.  Also, other McPherson County non-profits organizations interested in participating may contact any of the above agencies or the Church of the Brethren.

A QR code links to the donation site.  Persons who prefer to give by check may contact the McPherson Church of the Brethren office at 620-245-4835.