In December 2007, a group of clergy in Bellingham, Wash. met to discuss alternative giving. They realized that while several of their congregations were already holding alternative giving events, they could have a larger impact if they worked together. This was the beginning of the Alternative Holiday Market, which just celebrated its sixth event on November 17.
The Alternative Holiday Market in Bellingham has had up to 40 international and local nonprofit organizations present in the past, one of which has always been CWS, and usually draws around 200 attendees. The interfaith market is sponsored by six co-hosts: Assumption Catholic Church, Bellingham Association of Muslims, Bellingham Unitarian Fellowship, First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Islamic Society of Whatcom County, and St. James Presbyterian Church.
Rev. Tamalyn Kralman, organizer of the fair since its inception in 2007, views alternative giving as important because it is “one very simple way” to care for those in need in the world. She notes that many of the organizations at the fair are saving lives, and this is a worthy cause for holiday spending. The market provides shoppers with an interactive way to learn more about these organizations (including by playing with the many animals present!) and to help make a difference in the world.
The nonprofits at the fair are generally broken down into three categories: animals, people and environment. CWS is right in the middle of the fair, since it works in all three categories! Rev. Kralman says that CWS’s presence is important because of the range of work that CWS does around the world. Since we partners with several denominational programs (such as Week of Compassion and Presbyterian Disaster Assistance), it is an agency that people know and trust. She says that CWS’s low overhead costs are appealing as well, since shoppers trust CWS to allocate funds to the people in need.
In addition to the Alternative Holiday Market in Bellingham, CWS will be supported by alternative giving fairs across the Pacific Northwest this fall. For more information about events in the area, contact the Pacific Northwest office.