Last weekend the staff of AGI participated in Wichita’s Earth Fest 2010 event hosted by the Earth Spirit of Kansas Coalition. Organic and Vegetarian food, music, solar oven demos and earth-friendly fashion displays, were just a few of the attractions enjoyed by local and state wide participants at this annual event.
So today of course is Earth Day! If you’ve yet to ask, “What part can I play to help planet Earth?” Mark today as the beginning of an Earth Friendlier (Your Name Here). Here are 7 tips to get you started today:
1. Pitch in on an Earth Day project near you, whether it’s a street or beach cleanup, or a tree planting or gathering debris and cart it off to recycling plants.
2. Join an environmental group. Check Local newspapers/magazines or the web for listings. (Meetup.com is a good one!)
3. Plant some shrubs or flowering plants in your yard.
4. Furnish your home with thrift shop, secondhand store and flea market furniture. Or repurpose old furniture instead of trashing it!
5. Buy a few large canvas shopping bags and take them along when you do your grocery shopping.
6. Go cold turkey on herbicides, pesticides and chemical fertilizers.
7. Leave your car at home and walk or ride a bike, every chance you get.
AGI was honored to host a booth at, and be a part of, the Wichita Women’s Initiative Network “Domestic Violence Awareness” event on April 20th. We were excited at the fact that many of our booth visitors had given an alternative gift through AGI before, and by the fact that so many were interested in hosting gift markets at their churches and schools!
The keynote speaker at the event was Denise Brown, sister of Nicole Brown Simpson who was murdered almost 16 years ago.
Denise’s presentation focused on educating youth and community about domestic violence. Denise also urged people to pay attention to “the warning signs” that abuse is occuring in a relationship.
A snippet of the event can be viewed at the following link:
For more information about the warning signs of Domestic Violence please visit http://www.wichitawin.org/
If you or someone you know is frightened about something in your relationship, please call the 24/7 National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233
Some of you may know that our current catalog is organized in accordance with the United Nations Millennium Development Goals. Every time a person discovers our catalog or our website, and selects an alternative gift, the cycle of alternative gifting is repeated and the world is improved. Each simple gift provides joy, curiosity, compassion, appreciation, hope and new life. How can one gift encompass all of these things?
Joy – for the giver. AGI shoppers/donors actually enjoy this experience.
Curiosity and appreciation—Recipients are amazed or appreciative about the unique selection.
Compassion—Empathy is a powerful tool when students, volunteers or recipients can learn about the needs of others through the information provided about each project.
Hope—This is a basic need for people to be healed and survive through poverty and crises.
New Life—Such change occurs when connecting people who want to help, with people who can help, for people who need help.
We’re in the midst of planning our 2010-2011 Gift Catalog and in doing so, the UN Goals will be at the core of our selection process, giving you a fair balance of global causes to support. For more information about the UN Millennium Goals please visit www.un.org/millennium goals
The time is ripe for us to explore new ideas on how we can start the season of fresh beginnings with a “Spring” in our step! Communities everywhere are in preparation for the new season: getting ready to clean out the old, to get organized, apply a fresh coat of paint perhaps, and tend to the garden, planting seeds.
Spring is also an opportunity to “plant a seed” of awareness and philanthropy. For those of you with children it’s also a chance to turn the Spring Cleaning event into a character nurturing lesson.
Here are a few ideas:
- Let Your Community Set an Example: Gather with your neighbors to organize a community garage sale – be sure to involve kids too. Pick projects from the Alternative Gifts catalog and then donate the proceeds to causes you’ve all agreed to support.
- Host a Gift Market at your Church or School: Why not combine your Spring Cleaning garage sale with a Gift market? Simply order a Gift Market Kit from AGI. Gather your garage sale items. Advertise the Gift Market “Garage” Sale through your church or school website, social network and blog sites, or with flyers. Your gift market shoppers can choose the cause they will support, and walk away with their bargain buys feeling good about themselves!
- Have a “Spring Break” Home or Block Party: Just order free catalogs or a Gift Market Kit from AGI. The web has tons of global food recipes that are linked to countries featured in our catalog. You can also find themed music to entertain your guests too! Then invite your friends and neighbors over for an evening of good food, culture and philanthropy.
In our world of over consumption Spring can make way for an opportunity to start an environmentally conscious trend with something that’s been hanging in our closet far too long.
We live in a world economy based primarily on wealth and materialistic need, fueled by planned obsolescence. At the same time most world leaders recognize a need for the intangibles—things that can’t be advertised, bought or sold. Character traits such as honesty, dignity and respect are often rooted in empathy. Why talk about empathy? Because the ability to care about another person’s well-being has consequences far beyond giving a gift at holidays or sending a Valentine. It is the basic skill required of peace-makers and the common thread of many world faiths. It is the ‘Golden Rule.”
That is also the key reason why Alternative Gifts International (AGI) staff and volunteers work to get Alternative Gift Markets established in schools—from elementary schools to graduate schools. Students of all ages learn lessons in a refreshing new way by studying the projects that are featured in our catalog. These pages should provide the seeds for curiosity and research. The answer to any student’s question ‘Can we do this?’ should be a resounding ‘Yes!’
For those of us who enjoy living in Four Seasons, but don’t enjoy snow-mobiling, -boarding, or -skiing, at this time of year we are rather tired of staying indoors. After a while, it actually gets unhealthy–even for avid readers and musicians (like me). If we are more attentive to the small little changes that are going on outdoors, perhaps that will give us reason to do something different– like send an Alternative Gift! ‘I’m thinking of Spring’ Card to your friends who live in those warm climates. You know . . .the ones who send condolence tweets, texts. Facebook notes and emails to you when they hear the news about the blizzard in your city.
Try it. You will get their attention. And their admiration as a clever and witty friend.
Somewhere in my past, I read an older book by philosopher/psychologist Paul Tournier –written before 1980 makes it ‘old’ right? It was especially suitable for a parent to read, because the references were often made to how we feel about gifts based on our childhood memories, and how our parents ‘used’ gifts in our upbringing–or discipline. Now that my calling is to promote ‘alternative gifting’, the burden on parenting/mentoring is again clear. This organization — Alternative Gifts International–was founded by a Christian educator to help children have a practical understanding of the value of giving, rather than receiving. Without quoting the numerous research, studies and writings, which are set out to validate that adage, I encourage you to think about your own experience of gift-receiving and gift-giving.
Unfortunately, the modern day use of advertising provides us more invalid reasons for giving gifts than those that will make us feel good about giving. My guess is that most ads are written to entice the person to want the gift, rather than want to give the gift.
Think about this: Do you give gifts in hopes that the score will be kept even and your gift will be reciprocated? Do you give out of obligation? (Imagine the husband who is buying the diamond that he knows his wife wants… even though he is really thinking of the golf clubs he would rather purchase with that money). Yes, we can deal with these issues with humor, or we can see the serious nature of what is being unconsciously conveyed.
Why do we only send holiday greetings to employees, vendors and clients at Christmas/year-end? Are they only sent by/to Christians? Of course not! Is there such a thing as a New Year gift? Why don’t we send Valentine’s greetings to our employees, vendors, clergy, neighbors and clients? Would it be deemed too emotional, or too personal?
If you really care about the people who provide your livelihood, consider giving a gift in their honor that will help Haiti earthquake victims recover their lives. Visit the following link to support Project 39 http://alternativegifts.org/projects/project39 – All donations through February 28th will go directly to earthquake relief efforts in Haiti.
Peace & Blessings,
Lea McCloud – President
Post-holiday time is always interesting at Alternative Gifts International. After seeing the generosity of people at the busiest gift-giving time of the year, we get back to the work of planning for the next year: Selecting projects for “Shopping List for the World”, creating materials for the Alternative Gift Markets, which are the mainstay of our organization; We evaluate, track new trends and seek new contacts. We are also preparing our Annual Report for the previous fiscal year.
One of the most difficult things to do is get good feedback from our individual donors—like you. In recent months, I received a few letters from email donors who receive my letter/receipt. We are always looking for ways to improve our organization, its effectiveness, and the service we provide. We can’t do that without feedback.
* if you continue to order, and become a repeat donor;
* if you request catalogs to share with others;
* if you take the time to write, call or email us with a problem, or your opinion;
* if you are also attending coordinating an Alternative Gift Market.
At times we can’t get that information without a survey. We expect to do at least one or more donor surveys in 2010. So if you are contacted for your input, please respond!
And know that we are collecting funds for Haiti through Project 39 (See our website Home Page) that we will distribute before the end of the fiscal year. AGI has a special affection for Haiti; our founder, Harriet C Prichard, was deeply affected by the plight of the people of Haiti, and convinced our board to give special attention to Haiti’s needs. You can donate through AGI’s Project 39 between now and the end of February, and your gift will be distributed only to our partner agencies in Haiti that we have worked in over the years.