|Public Can Shop With Philanthropic Purpose at Davidson's Annual Alternative Gift Fair
November 23, 2010
by Kelly Beggs
The public is invited to attend Davidson College's 18th annual Alternative Gift Fair, which will take place from 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 5, in the Brown Atrium of the Alvarez College Union.
"Alternative gift-giving is a way to use the amazing resources that we have to help people who have very limited resources," said Davidson College Chaplain Rob Spach, whose office sponsors the fair. "It shows a real commitment to living in a just and equitable world."
The Alternative Gift Fair allows buyers to make donations to humanitarian and environmental aid organizations in honor of a friend or relative. Buyers can choose from more than 40 projects ranging from equipping tribal families with solar energy to providing malaria nets for families in India to stocking community grain banks in Cameroon.
Many of the gifts support empowerment-giving people the option to live their lives in a completely different way. For example, Spach pointed out that alternative gift shoppers can give women in Mexico the gift of literacy for just $25. "If you know how to read, whole vistas of possibilities open up for you," he said. "And you can give someone that for the same amount of money that you'd get someone a necktie that they don't need."
Prices are as diverse as the offerings, ranging from $1 to $240. After choosing a project, buyers make the appropriate donation and receive a card with information about the organization's mission to send to a friend or family member.
"You're guaranteed to make two people happy at the same time," added Spencer Wilson, '13, a sophomore economics major on the planning committee. Wilson said, "It's a way to do good in the world and to also avoid your run-of-the-mill holiday materialism."
Davidson's alternative gift fair began in 1993, when then-sophomore Letitia Campbell '96 suggested the idea to Spach. The Chaplain's Office has supported the event ever since. This year, the Interfaith Fellowship will cosponsor the fair for the first time. The Environmental Action Coalition, Patterson Court eating houses and fraternities, 1972, religious life groups, and other student groups will sponsor gifts by posting club members at the fair's stations to provide background information about each gift.
Davidson purchasers have contributed a total of $120,000 in the 18 years of the event, each year earning from $3,000 to $9,000. Davidson conducts its fair through Alternative Gifts International, an organization that audits and selects groups that work with issues of hunger, education, gender equality, medical services, and environmental sustainability around the world.
Accepted methods of payment will be CatCard, cash, and check. Donations are tax-deductible, and checks should be made out to Alternative Gifts International. For additional information, contact Chaplain Rob Spach at 704-894-2423. Those unable to attend the fair on Dec. 5 may make purchases on the Alternative Gifts International website http://www.altgifts.org/.
Davidson is a highly selective independent liberal arts college for 1,900 students located 20 minutes north of Charlotte in Davidson, N.C. Since its establishment in 1837 by Presbyterians, the college has graduated 23 Rhodes Scholars and is consistently regarded as one of the top liberal arts colleges in the country. Through The Davidson Trust, the college became the first liberal arts institution in the nation to replace loans with grants in all financial aid packages, giving all students the opportunity to graduate debt-free. Davidson competes in NCAA athletics at the Division I level, and a longstanding Honor Code is central to student life at the college.