More than 50 local charities and organizations will gather this Saturday in downtown Ithaca at the ninth annual Ithaca Alternative Gift Fair to raise money and provide people with alternative gift options for the holidays.
The Ithaca Alternative Gift Fair will be held from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday at the First Presbyterian Church and the First Baptist Church in DeWitt Park.
Potential gift-givers can walk around the event and see the donated gifts each organization has to offer. The gifts range from $10 to go toward a gallon of paint for Tompkins County Habitat for Humanity to $5 to buy yarn for volunteers to knit hats for people who lose their hair due to chemotherapy treatments.
People buy these gifts and receive a card to give to their recipient to show that a donation was made in their honor.
Participants can buy gifts at the event on Saturday and can buy gifts online at the Ithaca Alternative Gift Fair website Sunday.
The fair began in 2004 when Meaghan Sheehan Rosen, a founding member of the fair’s organizing committee, got the idea from the Center for the New American Dream.
“It really does represent one of those great things about Ithaca,” Sheehan Rosen said. “It’s fun; it’s a good vibe. I think one of the great things is having all of those organizations in one space.”
The fair is funded through the Ithaca Center for Transformative Action, which helps collect the money donated at the event and gives the proceeds to the intended organizations. The CTA is a nonprofit organization that provides money to groups who have ideas that help promote social change in the area.
Ithaca resident Christian Nielsen is on the board of volunteers that sets up the event each year. He said he became interested after he had attended the event as a shopper and decided to eventually volunteer for it.
“All of these nonprofits provide very valuable services to the community, and they should be supported,” Nielsen said.
Sheehan Rosen said the event has grown rapidly since its first year. She said in the first year, 18 organizations raised about $8,000, and last year, about 60 organizations raised almost $30,000.
This is the first year Tompkins County Friends of the Library is participating, Don Trotter, president of the organization, said.
Trotter said he hopes to raise awareness in the community about the Friends of the Library at the gift fair.
“It’s a really well-organized event,” Trotter said. “It looks like a very good event for Ithaca because it looks like it has the potential for people to show up and find out about a lot of different kinds of groups.”
Nielsen said many people are looking to give alternative gifts for the holidays because rather than buying traditional holiday gifts, they can give a gift that will help out a local organization.
“Say you have a sister that loves cats,” Nielsen said. “Rather than buying her something she doesn’t really need, you can make a donation to the ASPCA [American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals].”