WELLSBORO - Organizers were very pleased with the number of people who attended the First Presbyterian Church's third annual "Alternative Christmas Fair" earlier this month, according to organizer Carol Hallead.
Hallead said the first year the church held the event was the biggest, with about $6,000 in donations collected.
"Last year's total was about $3,000 from about 50 people," he said.
The event gives people the opportunity to make special purchases to help the less fortunate or donate to organizations and charities in need of support to provide services to others.
According to Hallead, the church came up with the idea after a member suggested it.
"He knew of a church in State College that did this, and the impact it had on different organizations was amazing," Hallead said.
Hallead, who also is the church's Pastor Glen Hallead's wife, said nine organizations were represented at this year's fair, including the Friends of Laurel Health Systems, Haven of Tioga County, His Thousand Hills, Seeds of Hope Partners, Wellsboro Area Food Pantry, Samaritan House, Salvation Army, Tioga County Homeless Initiative and African Team Ministries, which provides funding for orphan and refugee relief missions and evangelism in East Africa.
Each of the organizations was set up at tables in the church's fellowship hall offering information explaining its mission and a representative to answer questions.
Also at each table was a "price list" of items to "purchase."
"Shoppers" were given a "shopping" list to fill out with needed items, such as an emergency blanket for the Salvation Army or a personal care kit for an abused woman at the Haven shelter, along with the cost of the item.
According to Hallead, the church does not profit from the event, all proceeds are distributed to the charities.
The African Team Ministries table, which offered animal sculptures, musical instruments and toys all carved by hand in Africa, was sponsored by the church, as the Hallead's are former Presbyterian missionaries to Africa.
This table attracted children with its display of colorful array of elephants, gazelles and other African animals.
Nathan Gage, of Wellsboro, brought his two daughters, 7-year-old Madeline and 4-year-old Olivia. Gage said it was his first time to the event and he brought his children because he wanted them to be reminded what Christmas is all about.
"I liked the idea of being able to bring them to something with more meaning," he said.
Each girl was given $1 with which to make a purchase.
Madeline said she wanted to donate to the Tioga County Homeless Initiative, the Salvation Army and the Food Pantry.
Olivia said she would donate to the African Team Ministries, Seeds of Hope and the Salvation Army.
"It's better to give than get presents, but I still like getting presents," Madeline said.