State College

Alternate Christmas Fair focuses on the gift of giving

People peruse booths at the Alternative Christmas Fair to showcase local nonprofits at University Baptist and Brethren Church in State College on Sunday.
People peruse booths at the Alternative Christmas Fair to showcase local nonprofits at University Baptist and Brethren Church in State College on Sunday. fready@centredaily.com

The gift of giving was available for pick-up in the bottom floor of University Baptist and Brethren Church on Sunday.

From three hours, the 34th annual Alternative Christmas Fair gave residents of Centre County a three-hour window of opportunity in which to become better acquainted with 26 local nonprofits.

Representatives from organizations such as the Bob Perks Cancer Assistance Fund, Centre Wildlife Care and Mid-State Literacy Council were on hand to answer questions and make introductions.

“The charities get to network and collaborate and learn from another,” Jean Yeatman, who was handling publicity for the event, said.

Perhaps the most important connections that were being made were between the nonprofits and potential donors, who had the option of gifting a donation to a friend or loved one or just cutting out the middle man altogether.

“This gets back to the thought of the gift of giving,” Cynthia Carpenter, the event’s co-chair, said.

This gets back to the thought of the gift of giving.

Cynthia Carpenter, co-chair

Last year, the Alternative Christmas Fair raised $40,000 in the span of three hours. The event is typically popular among church members, but Carpenter said that this time she noticed more people in attendance from outside the community.

Kristen Koshko was manning the booth belonging to Housing Transitions and was impressed by the turnout.

“There’s been a lot of people who came through who weren’t aware of this organization at all,” Koshko said.

A little face time with curious passerby helped her to get out the message — the nonprofit works provide housing programs and services to individuals and families in need throughout the community.

Angela Linse, one of the board members of House of Care, occupied the booth next door and also benefited from the exposure to her cause.

The organization operates a small personal care home to ensure that individuals suffering from life-limiting conditions don’t slip through the cracks on the road to quality care.

It’s a critical contribution to our budget.

Angela Linse, House of Care board member

During any given year they need to raise 70 percent of their budget. Linse said that the Alternative Christmas Fair usually kicks in a couple thousand dollars toward that goal.

“It’s a critical contribution to our budget,” Linse said.

JoAnn and Ray Vautour have been attending the fair regularly for a few years now. They enjoy the chance to learn more about the missions of the various nonprofits at work in Centre County.

“There’s a need out there and there are social justice issues that are actively worked on in this community and we support that,” Vautour said.

Frank Ready: 814-231-4620, @fjready

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