Alternative market raises almost $10,000

The Chad and Jennifer Clark family (foreground) were raising money for mobilizing and educating disabled youth in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Even their Christmas tree was held up by tiny crutches symbolizing how children need to stand proud with the use of orthopedic leg braces. For a gift of $11, one pair of leather straps can be purchased for a child?s leg brace and, for $33, a pair of replacement shoes. Almost $10,000 was raised Saturday at the Alternative Gift Market with 29 booths available to choose from in the Marion Community Center.<p><p>Patty Decker / Free Press

Almost $10,000 was raised at Saturday?s Marion County Alternative Gift Market at the Marion Community Center.

The idea of an alternative market is to give a gift that will help people in need of food, education, medicine or other support, said Jackie Volbrecht, one of the organizers.

Margaret Pickering, also involved in the local organization, said this was Marion County?s fifth year.

?We had 29 of the 30 fundraising projects identified,? Volbrecht added.

In addition to new groups setting up their booth for the first time, some were returning, Pickering said.

Lori Soo Hoo of Hillsboro was back for a second year and, this time, she had two projects, she said.

?She made baby bottle ornaments for Safe Motherhood Kits to help in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Haiti and South Sudan,? she said.

The other project was Bikes for Healthcare Workers in Kenya, Nambia, Tanzania and Zambia.

Along with shopper?s donating to help women during childbirth, Soo Hoo also had little baby bottle ornaments to go along with the gift card.

Autumn Hanson of Marion and, also no stranger to the market, chose ?Yaks for Youth? to provide food and warmth for orphaned and impoverished nomadic children as her booth.

Volbrecht said that Hanson?s yak ornaments were so popular, she agreed to make more of them for those giving a donation.

A project that touched the hearts of fifth grade students at Marion Elementary School was ?Healthy Bones, Healthy Teeth, Healthy Kids, she said.

According to information about the project, it only takes $9 to give a child fresh milk for a month.

All donations from their booth, she said, will go to help children in Vietnam by being able to drink milk for strong bones and teeth and to prevent illness.

As part of their booth, the fifth graders had a large skeleton towering above their table to get the attention of contributors.

?Other local mission groups to include Marion County Food Bank/Resource Center, Main Street Ministries, FACT and PEO, also benefit from the market,? Volbrecht said.

Since it began in 2011, the AGM has steadily grown in numbers and popularity.

The first year, money raised for charitable projects was $4,700, followed by $7,000 in 2012, and $9,000 in 2013.Last year?s market totaled $9,251.

Alternative gifts do exactly what traditional gifts do,? Volbrecht said. ?They express love and show we care.?

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