Students to represent international projects in Alternative Gift Market

The Alternate Gift Market does more than give people the opportunity to buy unique Christmas gifts. It helps charities all around the world.

The non-profit organization, Alternative Gifts International (AGI), hosts an annual market to raise funds to support philanthropic projects across the globe by selling gifts in the form of ornaments, gift cards and donations. The proceeds benefit more than 70 different countries and a variety of needs. About 300 people shop at the event each year.

AGI Executive Director Tony Princ said the market provides an alternative to traditional Christmas shopping.

“It’s a wonderful place to go if you don’t feel like going to the mall, or if you don’t feel like going shopping at the big-box stores,” he said. “It’s a fun environment. It’s a great way to go and feel good about yourself.”

Wichita’s market will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at East Heights United Methodist Church, 4407 E. Douglas Ave.

The Pre-Medical Student Association and the Global Awareness Student Project are co-sponsoring two projects each at the market.

The Pre-Medical Student Association will raise money to support Healthy Bones, Healthy Teeth, Healthy Kids! — a program that provides fresh milk and formula to children in Vietnam — and Healing Nepal’s Sick and Injured, a program that helps rebuild hospitals in Nepal that were destroyed in an earthquake in April.

Global Awareness Student Project (GASP) will sponsor, a Safe Haven for Orphans, “to provide maltreated children in Mexico a safe haven and a brighter future” and Bikes for Healthcare Workers, to provide bikes for people in Africa and, “put healthcare within reach for those suffering from disease,” the AGI catalog stated.

Other projects at the market are raising money to support hunger, education, gender equality, child mortality, maternal health, medical services and environmental sustainability around the world.

When shoppers purchase a gift, it is purchased in honor of a family member or friend.

“You put those [gifts] under the tree or in the mail to families and friends saying, ‘I thought of you when I sent a safe motherhood kit to a woman in Africa, or when I helped dig a well for kids in India or when I helped rescue a woman from sexual slavery,’” Princ said.

There is no maximum or minimum limit on how much or little shoppers can donate.

My-Trinh Nguyen, former president of the Pre-Medical Student Association, said the biggest challenge in preparing for the market was making 150 milk-carton ornaments and tri-folds.

“It can be very time consuming,” she said.

GASP President Bach Nguyen also said making the ornaments was the most challenging part of the preparation process.

GASP made 150 tiny bike ornaments and nametag cards.

My-Trinh said making the ornaments was worth the effort because the market brings people in the community together.

“It’s actually pretty amazing seeing how many different organizations, not just churches, but student organizations, come together and support different projects that we believe everyone should hear more about,” she said.

Bach said the market gives the projects the awareness they deserve.

“I feel like all these charities aren’t heard usually, but [AGI] gives them a voice,” he said. “Not many people know about all of these causes, and it’s a way to get introduced to what’s going on in the world and become globally aware.”

Princ said the projects are available for donations year-round, but the market provides a one-stop shopping opportunity.

He said a donation can change a life more than 10,000 miles away.

“By way of giving, [you] can change people’s lives in many different ways all around the world, and that’s the objective — to invite people to come and give,” Princ said. “It’s a great way to give, and it makes you feel good.”