Alternative Gift

What’s the Impact of an Alternative Gift

“What Do I Want for Christmas?”  That’s the question we asked our Executive Director, Heather Cammarata. Her wishlist certainly is adding up. Read on for a little insight to what makes her holiday special and how the act of giving with intention can truly make an impact. 

A long, very long, time ago, answering that question entailed a thorough scouring of the Sears & Roebuck catalog, lingering over the pages of bicycles, games, toys, dolls, puzzles, and paint sets.  Bubble-gum pink plastic in assorted shapes, glitter-spangled cardboard boxes promising treasures that would last at least January—we were afloat in greed-induced euphoria illustrated by the annual exercise of writing a wish-list letter to Santa. 

Also a long time ago, answering that question took a turn.  My high school English teacher, Mrs. Alexander, shared an analogy about the value of time as it relates to money.   She said, imagine a girl who wishes for the perfect pair of shoes for Christmas, so that she can sparkle at the winter dance.  The only ones that will do are the $80 shoes in the window.  She asks for them.  Her father, who earns $20.00 per hour at his job, buys them for her.  The girl is dancing, not on shoes, but on four hours of her father’s life—the amount of time it took him to earn the money to buy the shoes.  At this point, everyone in class is sobbing, but Mrs. Alexander said the point wasn’t to make us feel badly, but to encourage us to appreciate the gifts we receive in terms of the time they represent. 

This is what makes MPA’s Alternative Gifts sparkle like no other gift.  As givers, we have a chance to give a gift to a loved one according to our budgets of money and time while also giving a gift of an enormous amount of time for the beneficiary in Africa. 

A pig, at $200, might be a 10-hour gift (using the $20/hour rate) here, but when the donation funds a small project for a post-fistula woman whose income is less than $1/day, that piglet represents over 200 DAYS of income she would have had to earn to afford that pig.  An impossible amount.  A life-changing gift.  

Further, the gift keeps giving.  The parents, families, scholars, and groups who benefit from MPA alternative gifts will in time become donors—givers!—in their communities. 

 What do I want for Christmas?  This year, my wish list is for a sewing machine, a school uniform, a pig, a cow, some chickens, maybe even a boat.  It’s a lot to unwrap.  It’s a lot to appreciate.  It’s a lot to give. 

Learn more about our alternative gift collection and how you can gift a gift of hope this holiday here on our website.

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