Johnston Church Offers ‘Alternative’ Holiday Shopping

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JOHNSTON, Iowa - In less than a week's time, every store and shopping mall will be filled with lines and crowds galore, as shoppers attempt to cross off their holiday shopping lists and take advantage of those Black Friday deals. But one church in Johnston is challenging people in the Metro to choose an alternative form of gift-shopping this season.

"Our theme is honoring those who have enough, by giving to those who have little," said Susan Vanessen, an organizer with St. Paul Presbyterian Church in Johnston. "You can buy something from a non-profit, like a box of nails from Habitat for Humanity, pet-care from the Animal Rescue League, a hygiene kit from Cross Ministries."

Shoppers could attend the church's first annual Alternative Gift Market Saturday from 11:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. 13 local and 30 international non-profits served as the "shops" in this "mall," and shoppers could choose to purchase gifts for their loved ones that would benefit any of these groups.

"I purchased some polio vaccinations for children," said Penny Milburn, a Johnston resident. "I do see a lot of families that are concerned about immunizations now."

Another shopper from Saydel, Amy Moore, says she wanted to give her mother-in-laws the gift of aiding the area's homeless population.

"Because they have everything," she said. "So, we want to give back to the community, and they like to give back to the community, also."

Vanessen says this first market was a major success, and she hopes to see it only grow over the years.

"You don't have to look very far to see that our world is in need," she said.

As for shoppers, they say this is what the holiday season is truly about.

"When you put the brakes on, it makes the true meaning of Christmas come back," Moore said. "You're giving from your heart, instead of from your pocket. And it's kind of a nice thing."

The church will offer the option to make online donations to any of the non-profits at Saturday's market on their website throughout the entire month of December.



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