The 1st annual Santa Fe Alternative Gift Market offers the opportunity for local attendees to make a charitable donation to over 40 humanitarian programs across the globe. This holiday season, give the gift of good will toward men (and women).---

Attendees at the Santa Fe Alternative Gift Market can make donations ranging from $1-$70 directly to communities in need. Each gift is accompanied by a holiday-themed card sent to friends or family members informing them of the donation made in their honor.

"You could buy a bag of cement to help build a shelter in Kenya; you can buy a solar cooker that allows people to purify water anywhere; you can buy mosquito netting to ward off malaria in affected regions," local author and market organizer James MacGrath Morris says.

The event is sponsored by Alternative Gifts International. Established in 1987, Alternative Gifts International is a nonprofit organization that has provided over $17 million in the past two decades to charitable causes throughout the world. This year, 45 Santa Fe volunteers join organizers in over 450 markets across 44 states to do their part to help change the world.

"Imagine receiving a gift reading: Dear Uncle Joe, this year in your honor, I've made it possible to buy four malaria meds in Rwanda. Merry Christmas. Happy Hanukkah. Happy Birthday," Morris says.

Morris and his wife, who have been donating to AGI for years, have chosen to bestow one year of classroom reading instruction for a woman and one year of secondary school for one girl in Mexico as part of the Empowering Women Through Literacy & Leadership program.

"Choosing [the program] is really fun," Morris says. "It's so empowering to think that, for what I spend on coffee in one month, I could provide secondary school education for a girl who might end up being the governor of Juárez. That's the real joy of it."

Also in attendance at the event are Mayor David Cross and Santa Fe Poet Laureate Joan Logghe, who presents a short reading. Drinks and snacks are also be available from the donations of Java Joe's, local chef Deborah Madison and others.

"The Santa Fe Alternative Gift Market is yet one more subtle reminder that, despite our economic situation, people in the rest of the world are so far off from us," Morris says. "We're serving as a modest reminder that, if our lot is difficult, imagine the lot of the people who sew those clothes that The Gap sells to us so cheaply."

Santa Fe Alternative Gift Market
9 am-5 pm
Opening Ceremony: 10 am
Saturday Dec. 11
Santa Fe Convention Center
201 W Marcy St.