Group fights poverty with alternatives to gifts | WBEZ
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Group fights poverty with alternatives to gifts

Burmese refugees hiding in the jungles from rebel armies. Gifts inspired by Alternative Gifts International by go to groups like the Burma Humanitarian Mission. (Courtesy of Burma Humanitarian Mission)

Alternative Gifts International has worked for 26 years to offer consumers an alternative to, well, consumerism. By gifting to world poverty causes rather than purchasing traditional gifts, AIG argues people can use their energy and dollars to fight poverty and promote social justice. Executive Director Tony Princ explains: 

AGI vets and features 30 different humanitarian and environmental projects categorized by the UN Millennium Development Goals, and partners with hundreds of inspired volunteers who plan and host Alternative Gift Markets throughout the U.S. and Canada each year. In Chicago, the group delivers support grants to the Elam Davies Social Services Center, the Lincoln Park Community Shelter and the Puerto Rican Cultural Center Sida/VIDA El Rescate Shelter. AGI donors support the AGI Hungry & Homeless Americans Project, which makes these grants possible.

AGI’s story begins in 1980; Harriet Prichard, the Director of Children’s Ministries at the Pasadena, Cali., Presbyterian Church, wanted to help children celebrate the Christmas season through their gift giving, focusing less on materialistic consumption and more on inspiring positive change in the world. Prichard created a market, with children and adults working together to promote social justice and raise money for poverty relief, selling self-development goods and animals for persons in need in the developing world. Prichard called these gifts “alternative gifts.”

Prichard’s vision continued to grow. She so motivated others, that in 1981, five churches in the Pasadena area held Alternative Gift Markets. In 1986, Alternative Gifts International, Inc. was born, and since that first market, over $26 million dollars have been raised for people in crisis.

Today, the staff of Alternative Gifts International works with volunteers all over the country to host Alternative Gift Markets, combining community, raising money for the important projects.

Alternative Gifts International holds two Chicago events this weekend. Click here for more info. 

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