It?s a different kind of shopping experience, but for those attending the Alternative Gift Market on Saturday, it was a ?feel good? event for holiday gift-giving.
Now in its fourth year, AGM in Marion raised an estimated $9,250, which is the largest amount thus far.
Jackie Volbrecht, one of the organizers, said she believes it was the best market ever, but admits she says that every year.
For Scott Thornhill of Marion, it was his first time at the market.
?It was great,? he said. ?I came in and saw all the different projects and some of those were here in town.?
Thornhill said he liked that and the concept of having an alternative option.
?It is a way to help out other families and share that with my family,? he said.
Lori Soo Hoo of Hillsboro had a booth this year, and said she thought it was a great experience.
Her booth, ?Well Babies, Well Moms,? provide prenatal care and postnatal care for women in the Mayan Village of Guatemala, she said.
?I got to learn about a new organization and support it, learning about all the other local and international organizations where money will do good work,? Soo Hoo said.
One couple brought their three children to assist them with an organization that helps people grow organic vegetable gardens.
Jedadiah and Jennifer Janes said the money donated goes for garden tools, seeds and education to do the work.
?If they grow enough food for themselves, they can take the extra to sell at farmers market,? Jennifer said. ?With that money, they can buy things for the home, send their kids to school or see a doctor if they need to.?
The Janeses had ornament with pea, carrot or tomato seeds.
?Pea seeds were a part of each ornament so you can have peas on earth,? she said.
Their three children helped make the more than 50 ornaments, and she only had nine left, which she hopes to have them all taken care of.
Judith Priest of Marion said the Eastmoor Methodist Church is helping Syria?s refugees in Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey.
?For a donation of $11, these people will have $1,000 in medical expenses, and for $2, they can receive 100 vaccinations,? she said.
The vaccinations will help curb the spread of disease because refugees are practically living on top of each other.
?I have done (the market) all four years,? she said. ?I like to use my energies to help the world.?
Tabor College students Junior Mustain and Christopher De Deaux, both fifth year seniors, also talked about what they think of the market.
Mustain said: ?I think it is great what is going on here. Everything is about awareness if people know.
?Once they know, there is hope that something will come up and help them move forward, it will make a better place for these people,? he said.
De Deaux said he believes the market is a good cause by trying to support people.
?Some places don?t have the resources we have,? he said.
Belinda Skiles spoke to De Deaux and Mustain about women in India needing sewing machines so they can come out of the fields, work at home, be with their children and teach daughters to sew.
The cost of a sewing machine is $105 or participants could donate to help pay for tuition so they could continue their education.
Sarah Tolessa and Shannon Cooper, both fifth grade teachers at Marion Elementary School decided to involve their class in ?Books for School Libraries in Ethiopia.?
Cooper?s booth was ?Bright Futures for Mingi Children in Ethiopia.?
?My husband is Ethiopian, so we chose those two (projects),? Tolessa said.
The students made Ethiopian flag ornaments for the Mingi children, she said.
?These children are abandoned for superstitious reasons,? Tolessa said.
Some of the reasons could include their teeth coming in on top before the bottom ones, if they are twins, or if parents wedding wasn?t blessed or children weren?t blessed, Tolessa said.
Consequently, the orphanage provides books, training to the teacher and making it possible for rural areas to have access to books.
In the last four years, AGM has grown each year, and 2014 was no exception.
The first year, Volbrecht said charitable projects received $4,700.
In the second year, more than $7,000 was donated to local and worldwide charities.
The following year, the amount totaled $9,000, she said.
?This year?s $9,251 market total includes the food court, fair trade markets coffee and jewelry,? she said.
?Alternative gifts do exactly what traditional gifts do,? she said. ?They express love and affection, celebrate occasions and show you care.?