• Written by Woodinville Weekly Staff

Reading dogs, time bank jobs, organic veggies for teens at Alternative Gift Fair

As the holiday hype goes into overdrive, budget talks fall apart, political fissures deepen, and the dark short days of winter descend, are you ready for some good news?

On Saturday, Dec. 3rd between 9 a.m. and 3:30 p.m., you can informally meet people who are making good things happen — 365 days a year, from the Eastside to Africa.

The 9th annual Alternative Gift Fair is a relaxed, festive hall where people aged 1 to 100 find a spirit of giving and hope.

You can buy actual gifts – handcrafted jewelry, textiles and art from Ten Thousand Villages, a fair-trade Mennonite program helping artisans across the world earn a stable, living wage to support their families and villages.

Or, for people who might not need or want actual items, 20 local and national nonprofits offer “gifts of the heart.”

You can learn about and personally talk with staff who can share personal stories about how just a few donated dollars or pennies become powerful tools for people to help themselves.

Children can “Read with Rover,” specially trained dogs that help young children read better, while parents learn about local support for families coping with Alzheimer’s or mental illness, or the new Eastside Time Bank where neighbors trade services instead of cash.

Meet a Woodinville doctor who is bringing toothbrushes and training to Nicaraguan Miskito Indian children who never had dental care, or the local farmers providing free organic produce plus cooking lessons to local teen and homeless shelters.

If you find a special cause that fits the interests of family, friend, coworker, teacher or coach, your small donation brings a “gift card” explaining what your gift to the nonprofit will do in that person’s honor.

All donations go directly to the nonprofit organizations, so that in just a few hours, their coffers will be strengthened by generous local citizens who have donated thousands of dollars over the past eight years.

More importantly, people of all ages will leave with a boosted sense of optimism, and a renewed sense of what a spirit-filled holiday can be.

The Alternative Gift Fair will be held Saturday, Dec. 3rd, 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., at Northshore United Church of Christ, 18900 168th Ave NE in Woodinville.

For details, see or call 483-6557.

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