The Pleasant Hill Community Church, United Church of Christ, in Tennessee provided a way for its members and friends to give a meaningful gift during the holidays while supporting 18 worthy organizations. The Alternative Christmas Fair was an opportunity to purchase items, memberships, or donate in the name of family and friends instead of purchasing a meaningless gift. The Justice and Mission Ministry of the Pleasant Hill Community Church sponsored the Fair on Saturday, November 17, 2018 from 10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. in the Pleasant Hill Community House. Donations of nonperishable foods helped support three local food pantries. Items were brought to stock the shelves of Avalon’s 24-hour emergency shelter. Avalon, located in Crossville, TN provides a Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Program in five counties of the upper Cumberland area of TN. SERRV and Equal Exchange as well as other fair trade products were available in the Fair Trade Room of the Church building.
During the Fair, participants donated to as many of the 18 non-profit organizations as they selected. The Church received the funds, collated the money, and will distribute checks to these worthy groups before Christmas. Shoppers also purchased products in the Church’s Fair Trade Room helping support self-help industries and cooperatives around the world. As all of the participating groups are non-profit, donations or memberships are tax deductible. Booths at the Fair this year were Alzheimer’s of Tennessee, the Back Bay Mission of Biloxi, MS; Cumberland County Hospice, OREPA (Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance), the Resource Fund of SOCM (Statewide Organizing for Community eMpowerment), the PHCC Cuba Partnership Fund supporting the B.G. Lavastida Center in Santiago de Cuba, Avalon Center, Pleasant Hill Boy Scout Troop 170, Cumberland County Habitat, Cumberland County Foster/Adoptive Parent Association, Cumberland Good Samaritans, The Grab thrift shop, Heifer International, Morgan-Scott Project (an ecumenical project serving the needs of two of the poorest counties in TN), PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays), PH Historical Society of the Cumberlands, Cumberland Adult Reading Council (CARC), and Shalom Center for Continuing Education. Each group decorated its own area, provided tribute cards, brochures, and other materials to the donor.
Coffee shops were available for people to enjoy drinks and homemade goodies, while visiting with each other in both the Community House and Boyce Hall of the PH Community Church building. The PH Community Church has sponsored an Alternative Christmas Fair for fifteen years as an outreach mission. This year to-date $6,968 has been contributed for the 18 non-profits and $439.75 worth of fair traded products purchased. The Fair is held for three-hours on a Saturday, but those who could not attend have given afterwards and more is still coming in. As valuable as the funds generated was the networking by directors of the groups and the information shared with the donors. For more information contact Co-organizers, Jean & Don Clark, [email protected] or visit www.pleasanthillucctn.org.