Upper Cape Cod Alternative Gift Market
Every year for the past nine years, an interfaith coalition of congregations in Falmouth has sponsored an unusual kind of fair called the Alternative Gift Market (AGM). The gift market provides the entire Upper Cape community with the opportunity to buy a non-traditional gift in honor of a loved one, a friend or someone else they wish to recognize. The gift – a contribution to a tax-exempt, nonprofit organization that helps people on the Cape, in Massachusetts or around the world – enables shoppers to give to others in a different and meaningful way.
Come learn about the work of 10 local and 10 global organizations that address needs in our community and communities in other parts of the world. In most cases, you will learn from people who are actually involved in the work, either here or abroad. Local gifts offered at this year's market include housing for the homeless, counseling for people in need of support, food for the shelves of Upper Cape food pantries, and medical treatment for rescued sea animals. Global gifts include support for outstanding educational programs in Guatemala, Kenya, and Afghanistan as well as life-sustaining food for malnourished infants and children, a business loan for a woman entrepreneur, and protection of tropical rainforests in Indonesia.
Fair trade products such as coffee, chocolate, jewelry, scarves and other handcrafted items can also be purchased at the market. Purchase of any of these fair trade items helps farmers and artisans in developing countries earn enough income to sustain their families and educate their children.
Choose any one of these meaningful gifts to help alleviate poverty, renew our planet’s environment, or promote education, sustainable development and peace. For many individuals and families, shopping at the AGM has become a traditional part of their annual giving, whether the gifts they purchase are in honor of specific people or are considered "gifts to their neighbors at home and around the world. Some people have chosen the Thanksgiving Holiday dinner as the perfect time to give AGM gifts to family members. Other shoppers plan ahead for Christmas, Hanukkah, or birthdays.
2016 AGM Flyer: AGM Flyer 2016.pdf
2016 AGM Shopping List: AGM 2016 Shopping List.pdf
The UUFF Social Action Committee organized the first Alternative Gift Market in Falmouth in 2007 and since then, has continued to provide leadership for this annual event. Today, the Upper Cape Alternative Gift Market is organized each year by a Steering Committee with representatives from sponsoring Falmouth congregations: the Falmouth Jewish Congregation, John Wesley United Methodist Church, St. Barnabas Episcopal Church, First Congregational Church, Church of the Messiah, the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Falmouth (UUFF), and the Waquoit Congregational Church.
Different charitable organizations are represented at the gift market from year to year but a few organizations are included every year, including the food pantries of Falmouth, Bourne, Sandwich and Mashpee and Heifer International. The steering committee works with Alternative Gifts International to identify worthwhile projects around the world.
The shopper who buys an alternative gift receives an insert describing the project receiving the donation. The insert is sent to the recipient in whose name the donation was made. In addition, visitors to the market can shop at the Global Bazaar which includes fair trade handcrafts from Project Have Hope of Uganda, A Thread of Hope Guatemala, and food items from Equal Exchange.
As the number of sponsoring organizations and the popularity of the market have grown, so too have the funds raised by the event. In its first year, the Alternative Gift Market raised $19,385 in charitable gifts and fair trade sales. In 2015, the market took in over $37,000 in donations and $11.000 in fair trade sales. Funds raised by AGM over the last nine years totaled over $293,000 in donations and $89,000 in fair trade sales for a grand total of $382,811.
The AGM Steering Committee with members from the sponsoring congregations choose the charities. Suggestions from the community are welcome. The market is run by volunteers from the sponsoring congregations and representatives of the local charities.
The Global Marketplace also provides the opportunity to purchase fair trade items at the Global Bazaar, which features fair trade merchandise from artisans and farmers from Asia, Africa, and Latin America. Handcrafted items such as jewelry, baskets, bags, scarves and other items support women and men around the world, working cooperatively to make a living for their families. Fair trade organizations that have participated in past markets include The Sharing Foundation (Cambodia), the Emancipation Network, A Thread of Hope Guatemala, and SERRV with merchandise from all over the world. Every year Equal Exchange comes to the market with their high quality, fair trade organic coffees, teas and chocolates, along with their popular, complimentary coffee tastings.
Kathryn Tunsley of Falmouth tells 2015 AGM shoppers about Many Hopes,
a Kenyan based organization that is "educating Kenya's next generation of leaders".