Alternative Gift Fair 2021

Welcome to the 12th Annual Alternative Gift Fair! Like a lot of things, it isn’t “back to normal” yet this year, but we’ve tried to give you as much of the Alternative Gift Fair as we can. We have fair trade items for purchase, alternative gifts, and two options for Children’s Corner! The Alternative Gift Fair runs from November 1st to December 20th, so be sure to put in your order in time!

The fair trade items are for sale via a fundraising link from SERRV, so your purchase helps support our Guatemala partnership as well as local artisans around the world! Items include handmade jewelry, scarves, toys, ornaments, foods, spices, home decor, and much more. Special Offer: Monday, November 8 – Monday, November 22: Free ground shipping (code: SE4SERRV21)

In the Children’s Corner, children and youth can pick out gifts for loved ones without their parents seeing what they purchased! Children’s Corner items are all handmade fair trade gifts and cost $1-$12. This year, we are offering both video chat AND limited in-person appointments for kids to shop. Shopping will be available Wednesday-Sunday, December 1-5, and we will offer online signups for time slots – see details below. 

We also have alternative gifts available! Consider making a donation to one of the 17 local, national, and international charities and mission projects featured below as a gift to a family member, friend, or co-worker.

If you have any questions or challenges with the process, please contact us at and we will do our best to help you out. And be sure to share this page with your friends, neighbors and family!

Fair Trade Items from SERRV

SERRV is a fair and ethical trade company founded in 1949, sourcing items from 24 countries worldwide. Their network includes over 8,000 artisans and farmers. They provided us with a fundraising link, so your purchase helps support our Guatemala partnership as well as local artisans around the world! Items include handmade jewelry, scarves, toys, ornaments, foods, spices, home decor, and much more.  The website is active until Monday, December 20th.

Please verify that the website shows an orange banner saying ‘20% of your order today will be donated to First Presbyterian Church of Howard County’ before you start shopping!

Special Offer: Monday, November 8 – Monday, November 22: Free ground shipping (code: SE4SERRV21)

Children’s Corner

Children’s Corner is a place where kids and teens (and cash-strapped college students!) can shop for fair-trade gifts – no parents allowed!

  • We are offering BOTH videochat and in-person appointments for youth (college age and younger) to shop at the Children’s Corner.
  • Shopping will take place Wednesday, December 1 through Sunday, December 5.
  • CLICK HERE to sign up for appointments on SignUpGenius.

Here’s the process this year: 

  1. Check back soon to sign up for a time slot. Appointments will be available from Wednesday, December 1 through Sunday, December 5.  Like last year, you will be able to select a video chat appointment (so you can shop from home). Alternately, this year we anticipate being able to offer in-person appointments limited to only one child at a time (or siblings from the same family) shopping in the Children’s Corner room – with one or two vaccinated and masked adults assisting.
  2. Before your appointment, plan your mission! Figure out who you’re buying gifts for (such as parents, grandparents, brothers, sisters, teachers, babysitters, and friends) and the total amount you can spend. All gifts in the Children’s Corner cost between $1 and $12.
  3. If you choose to shop via video chat, during your appointment you’ll chat (via FaceTime or Google Duo) with volunteers who will show you the gifts you can buy. If you choose to shop in-person, you’ll come to room 107 at your appointment time to look at what is available. They’ll make a list of your gifts and who they are for, gather your items, and add up your purchases. 
  4. Afterwards your parents will receive an emailed invoice with the total amount due. They can pay online via PayPal or drop off a check when you pick up your purchases.  (PayPal will be the only option for paying via credit card.)
  5. Whether you shop via video chat or in person, volunteers will wrap the presents that you chose. They’ll be ready for pickup at the church over the weekend of December 4-5 and the following weekend (exact dates/times TBD). 

Parents (and youth/college shoppers): Your first and most important step is to make a shopping appointment! After you schedule your appointment(s), you’ll receive a confirmation email with additional details about the process, and we will determine what will work best for your family. 

If you have questions or need help making your appointment, contact Kathy Woods or email

Alternative Gifts

Because the 2021 Alternative Gift Fair is a virtual event, you may find it easiest to donate directly to the organizations listed below. Included are local, national, and international programs as well as a few of the mission projects underway at First Pres. To ease the increased burden that the virtual event puts on the church’s financial team, we ask that you give money directly to the charities when possible through their websites.

Use the form below to donate to First Pres programs, or if you don’t want to donate on a charity’s website and would rather the donation go through the church.  The form is active until December 6th.

Alternative Gifts Form

To donate to an organization or mission project through the church, please fill out our form here:

The form is the only way for us to make sure your donation goes right where you want, and it provides a link to the church’s PayPal upon form completion. The form also sends a receipt upon completion. We ask that you tally the receipt and make sure it matches your PayPal receipt. You do not need to have a PayPal account to use the provided PayPal link; credit cards are accepted. 

If you choose to donate directly to an organization, please do not include it on the Alternative Gift Fair Order Form. 

Mission projects at First Presbyterian Church of Howard County:

Donations to these projects must be included on the Alternative Gift Fair Order Form.  

  • Guatemala Coffee Project: Provides microgrants to members of the church’s partner presbytery in Guatemala to grow coffee.
  • Guatemala Scholarship Program: Provides scholarships to youth in the church’s partner presbytery in Guatemala to attend school in grades 7-12, which is not provided by the government.
  • Guatemala Stove Project: Provides efficient, vented cooking stoves to families in the church’s partner presbytery in Guatemala to improve air quality in the homes and decrease the amount of firewood needed.

Please click on the links for the organizations below to learn more about them and donate directly.

Local Organizations:

Animal Advocates of Howard County: 

Bridges to Housing Stability:

Feed Howard County:

Grassroots Crisis Intervention: 


  • Provides support and advocacy for people in Howard County affected by sexual and intimate partner violence and engages the community in creating the change required for prevention.

Howard County Special Olympics:

  • Year-round training and competitive sports program for adults and kids with intellectual disabilities and/or closely related developmental disabilities

Meals on Wheels of Central Maryland:

National/International Organizations:

Church World Services: 

  • 26 diverse assistance programs all over the world, often related to refugees and food scarcity

Equal Justice Initiative: 

  • Committed to ending mass incarceration and excessive punishment in the US, challenging racial and economic injustice, and protecting basic human rights for the most vulnerable people in American society.

Heifer International: 

  • Numerous programs addressing hunger and poverty in a sustainable way by investing in local farmers and their communities

Medical Benevolence Foundation: 

  • Equipping the medical ministry of the Church in each country to use the gifts God has given them, so they can be who God has created them to be. This approach empowers them to provide measurable, lasting change.

Presbyterian Disaster Assistance: 

The Trevor Project: 

Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund:

  • Committed to ending discrimination based upon gender identity and expression and to achieving equality for transgender people through public education, test-case litigation, direct legal services, and public policy efforts.