Takoma Park Alternative Gift Fair goes outside the box -- Gazette.Net



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While malls and websites might also have been buzzing with holiday shoppers, so was the 14th annual Takoma Park Alternative Gift Fair on Saturday.

Held at the Takoma Park Presbyterian Church, the Alternative Gifts of Greater Washington-sponsored event included more than 15 organizations to which people could make donations that would serve as holiday gifts for friends and family.

“[The holidays] really can be about being with each other, supporting people that are in need, reaching out to others in the community — and having fun,” said Mimi Ikle-Khalsa, Alternative Gifts of Greater Washington’s co-chairwoman.

“All of our organizations do direct service,” Ikle-Khalsa said of the fair.

Attendees could make gift-donations to Bikes for the World, a Washington, D.C., area-based nonprofit that collects bikes, parts and tools for people in developing countries.

Or Dining for Women, an organization that holds educational dinners for its members and donates to international programs for women and girls.

“I get to know so many people, and I fall in love with so many other organizations,” Ursula Daniels, a Dining for Women chapter co-leader, said of events such as the fair.

EduSeed — another gift-donation recipient — is currently helping about 30 elementary and high school girls in Alexandria, Va., through its mentoring program.

Another nonprofit, The Hilltop Microfinance Initiative, is run by Georgetown University students seeking to help businesses in the Washington, D.C., area through methods such as loans and consultation.

Maggie Cahalan, of Greenbelt — one of the roughly 300 to 350 people that were expected to attend the fair — said she had been “searching for ways to think about gifts” and was looking for presents to give her late sister’s children.

“I think they’ll be happy,” said Cahalan, who made donations to the Chesapeake Education, Arts, and Research Society (where she volunteers), EduSeed and Star Gazing Farm in Boyds.