Church fair offers gift alternatives

November 24, 2003|by DON AINES

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - A jar of honey would not be considered an unusual gift, but receiving the bees to make it is another matter, unless one lives in the Galychyna region of the Ukraine.

"She got a hive of bees," Larry Glenn of Mont Alto, Pa., said Sunday, nodding toward his wife, Nancy. She had just purchased it for $30 through a catalog offered by Heifer International, a charity that helps people around the world get onto the path of self-reliance.

It was one of the more unusual holiday gifts offered by more than a dozen organizations Sunday at the Alternative Gift Fair at St. Andrew Catholic Church.


For Larry Glenn, the fair was a great answer to the question, "What do you buy for the person that has everything?"

"We got some horsemanship things for Manito and we'll be doing some things with the Heart Association," Larry Glenn said of their shopping excursion. Instead of friends or relatives actually getting a beehive or a riding lesson, however, they will get a card telling them a donation to a good cause has been made in their name, he said.

In the case of Manito, an alternative school near Greencastle, Pa., Glenn said the donation "kills two birds with one stone" by promoting a horsemanship program for troubled teens and saving an old horse from the glue factory.

Emelda Valadez, a religious education teacher at the church, said the idea for the gift fair came up through student discussions about the Gospels.

"One of the things that came out was the commercialism and how we've lost the true meaning of the season," she said.

The catechism students "brainstormed and came up with a list of nonprofits that might participate," she said.

Clare Coda, a sophomore at Greencastle-Antrim High School, said they came up with a list of 21 organizations to which they sent letters. Fourteen responded.

"This is the first one I've ever been to and it worked out real well for us," said Don Danner, who was manning a table for Habitat for Humanity. A small stack of cash and checks on the table testified to the monetary generosity of visitors, but Danner said a couple of people also volunteered to help out this spring when Habitat builds houses in Waynesboro and Chambersburg, Pa.

A number of the donations were for $50, according to Danner, enough to buy a roof truss, four lighting fixtures or a kitchen cabinet for a house that will become a home for a low- or moderate-income family.

The Antietam Humane Society had pulled in nearly $300 in donations as the fair was wrapping up, volunteer Virginia Farbo said. The shopping list noted that a $10 gift was enough to feed a dog for a week, and $15 to $30 could provide vaccinations for an adoptable animal.

Irma Pabon of Waynesboro bought a gift for the society and said she was looking around to make some more donations. Buck and Mary Bassett of Fayetteville, Pa., said they bought a pack of diapers for Catholic Charities.

Big Brothers/Big Sisters, ESCAPE Parent-Child Center, The Lunch Place, New Hope Shelter, Pregnancy Ministries, Renfrew Institute, Waynesboro Area Human Services Council and Women In Need also were represented at the fair. Valadez said all the charities except Heifer International were local.

Nancy Glenn's donation will be used to get someone in Galychyna started in the honey business, according to the Heifer International catalog. A $150 gift is the equivalent of a llama for a Peruvian family, and a heifer for the holidays costs $500.

If that is too steep, the catalog states that a heifer share goes for $50.

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