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Alternative gift-giving changes holiday spirit

Some folks in Pocatello are aiming to make holiday gifts a lot more meaningful. Organizers of an alternative gift market hope to bring some change to the holiday gift-giving spirit and make it a lot less about buying something from a store.

“Instead of entering into the consumer culture that is so prevalent this time of year, we offer ways for people to spend money, purchasing gifts that really make a difference in the world,” said Susie Matsuura, gift market volunteer.

It does that by creating a market where the gifts people buy are charitable donations.

How about helping pay for dental care for Sudanese refugees, hospital beds in North Korea or helping buy a yak for poor people in Tibet?

Luke Yost is 12 years old and went to the gift market with his family. He said he’s more than happy to use some of the money that could have bought him another video game or new clothes to do good for people he’ll probably never meet.

“If you have enough stuff for yourself, why not get something for someone else?” said Luke.

Most of those who showed up for the gift market at Pocatello’s First United Congregational Church of Christ said it means a whole lot more to receive an immaterial gift that means someone has done some good than just another toy or tool .

“You treasure that. Whereas the toaster that someone bought for you last year? You don’t remember who bought it for you — you just use it,” said shopper Cross Reardon. “It doesn’t mean anything anymore.”

The volunteers who helped make this different gift-giving opportunity possible said it much better embodies the true Christmas spirit than picking something off the shelf at the nearest big box store. “Instead of spending money on things we probably don’t need or that our aunt Mary already has 12 of or that something that I have to eat or dust, give me something that helps somebody,” said Matsuura.

Market organizers are encouraging everyone to find some way to do a little good with their giving this year.

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