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  • A basket of handmade toys wait for their new homes.
  • The bake sale is in full swing at the fair.
  • Ornate bowls sit ready for purchase on a vendor table.
  • A shopper checks out a display of ornaments at a vendor table.

Buying once and gifting twice is the motto for the Alternative Gift Fair in Evergreen, where purchases benefit not only the gift recipients but also the nonprofit they were purchased from.

The 21st Alternative Gift Fair, hosted at Evergreen Lutheran Church this past weekend, had 30 nonprofit and charity vendors. The vendors receive 100% of funds from sales, made possible by the bake sale portion of the fair and the donation of space by Evergreen Lutheran Church.

Jean Wells, part of the vendor relations team, explained the mechanics of the day and described the feeling of people lining up at the door in years past.

“I think it’s kind of like going to a rock concert,” she said.

Wells said she had great community feedback leading up to the event, and people get excited for the fair every year.

“Everyone was so excited to hear that we would be here,” she said.

In 2019, the last year the fair was held in person, vendors took home more than $100,000 for their nonprofits. This money benefits local and global organizations. Last year’s event was virtual because of the pandemic.

Fatou Doumbia has spent nine years working with Agile International and started selling bags to help the nonprofit three years ago.

“I have African bags that we make to support women’s empowerment, food security and the other side of the news (about) people in Africa,” she said.

Doumbia lives in Longmont but travels to Africa to hand-make the bags along with others using natural dyes and materials like kola nuts and bark. The group has environmentalism at the forefront of its designs and production ideas.

Agile International supports food, land and women in West Africa. The group purchases land for women to farm and teaches sustainable farming techniques, thus increasing the food supply and securing futures for women.

Some shoppers even came from Denver to shop at the fair. Claudia Giannetti, a volunteer and shopper, came to explore the unique gifts the fair had to offer.

“This is a great place to shop because you get items in a fair-trade way,” she said.

Giannetti volunteered in the morning with Global Mamas, a cooperative of women in Ghana who create prosperity for themselves through creating and selling handmade products. Global Mamas had lots of items to offer that Giannetti picked up, including soap, shea butter products and dyed cloth. 

The fair is a great opportunity to get some holiday shopping done early, while helping support a diverse group of organizations. 

“I bought for my daughter, my granddaughter,” Giannetti said.

The Alternative Gift Fair was supported this year by six local interfaith congregations, including Evergreen Lutheran Church, United Methodist Church of Evergreen, Church of the Hills Presbyterian, Congregation Beth Evergreen, Church of the Transfiguration and Christ the King Catholic Church. 

People left the fair with full bags, with rumors floating around of vendors selling products extremely quickly on the first day of the event; Saturday event-goers seemed happy they arrived early!