First United Methodist Church's Gifts for Good
● By Laura Christman
By Laura Christman
The goodness at Gifts for Good in Redding flows many ways:
Good deeds • Good gifts • Good times
The free community event is 1 to 4 p.m. Dec. 4 at First United Methodist Church. It’s an afternoon to learn about local and global efforts that help others, and to support them through purchases and donations. It’s also an opportunity to slow down and enjoy the Christmas season – make a wreath, listen to music, sip cider and have a volunteer stitch a funky, fuzzy hat just for you.
Gifts for Good is the church’s gift to the community, says Peggy Rebol, director of ministry. It is intended to be an alternative to the season’s frenzied consumerism. The annual event is marking its 10th year. It began as The Alternative Christmas Faire, but the name created confusion. Some thought it was an alternative to Christmas itself.
“I was constantly having to explain to people what it was,” Rebol says. So the name changed to Gifts for Good – a straightforward description.
People of Progress, One SAFE Place, Shasta Group of the Sierra Club, Genocide No More – Save Darfur, Heifer International, Imagine No Malaria, Southeast Asian Christian Ministries and other organizations participate. Representatives have booths to share information about their programs. Some groups sell coffee, calendars, chocolates or other items to raise money. Gift cards are available for any donations made as gifts in the names of friends and family members.
Velvet Elephant Fair Trade Emporium of Mount Shasta will have a shop with clothing, jewelry, note cards and other handcrafted items. Fair trade means those making the goods are guaranteed a fair price. Money made helps families rise above poverty.
Rebol says the annual event has raised $65,000 for organizations since its inception.
Gifts for Good also raises awareness, notes Marv Steinberg of Genocide No More – Save Darfur. He enjoys being able to talk directly to people about the group’s work, such as soccer and preschool projects for displaced children. The mood of the event is upbeat and people are receptive, he says.
“I think they are happy to have the opportunity to shop in that kind of setting and see that the money goes for good,” he says.
Debbie Livingston of Southeast Asian Christian Ministries says Gifts for Good provides exposure for her organization’s work helping immigrants from some 25 counties.
“I love the event,” she says. “On a personal level, I do a lot of Christmas shopping there. I love giving gifts that are also giving back to the community.”
The “Human Bean” soup mix she gets from People of Progress has become a favorite gift in her family.
“This is such a great event for everyone in the community,” says Beth Brower of One SAFE Place. “You can purchase unusual gift items from various organizations that either represent or help support many great projects and causes. If you are looking for a good cause to send a donation to, this is the place.”
Helping groups that help others is one part of the event. It is also about providing a time and place to enjoy the holiday season. Christmas is a wonderful time of year, so step back from the obligations and experience the joy, Rebol says.
“Give yourself time. It feels like it makes the season more meaningful—and magical,” she says.
Crafts are encouraged – for all ages. The choices typically include table decorations, ornaments and cards. Among the options will be a wreath-making station with lots of fresh greenery. Fleece beanies have become a signature item of Gifts for Good. Attendees select fabric and cut the pieces for volunteers, who stitch them together with sewing machines.
Musical performances, light refreshments and a visit by Santa also are part of the event.
Natasha Henneinke and her children, ages 4, 5 and 10, attended Gifts for Good last year for the first time. She helped sell cookies and cocoa for the church’s youth program.
“Everyone was real joyous and in a generous mood,” she says.
Her children stayed busy with the selection of activities.
“Now that we’ve been there, we’re not going to miss it. It’s fantastic,” she says. •
Gifts for Good, Dec. 4 • 1 to 4 pm
First United Methodist Church
1825 East St., Redding