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Cornwall church offers a giving alternative

CORNWALL — While consumers throughout the country continue to recover from the frenzied shopping experiences that were Black Friday and Cyber Monday, leaders of the Cornwall Congregational Church are quietly organizing what could appropriately be called “Alternative Saturday,” a Dec. 1 opportunity for people to purchase the gift of basic necessities for people struggling just to survive.
The Cornwall Church on Route 30 is referring to the event as its second annual Alternative Market, which will give shoppers an opportunity to check out several local, statewide and international aid organizations in need of funds to help people who are hungry, homeless, persecuted and/or ill.
Shoppers will be able to make a donation to the organization(s) of their choice in the name of a recipient who, as they celebrate the holidays, will have the satisfaction of knowing they helped someone in a very basic and tangible way, noted Betsy Stine, secretary of the Cornwall Church’s Mission Committee. It’s a perfect gift for the person who thinks he or she has everything.
“As you get older, gifts and more things don’t mean as much,” Stine said.
Some of the local groups to be represented at the Alternative Market will include Habitat for Humanity (which is building some homes in Cornwall), the Community Meals of Middlebury and the Meals on Wheels program that delivers food to homebound seniors.
Those looking to make their mark in more distant lands can contribute to other causes, such as Nomadicare, which delivers health services to rural Mongolians under the leadership of county resident Sas Carey; and Aman Children’s Home, which offers shelter and other services to homeless children in Ethiopia and Kenya. Representing the latter charity will be Middlebury College students Brook Mengesha and Evelyn Rotich, who hail from Ethiopia and Kenya, respectively.
The market will run from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. At the same time, children of the congregation will be making and offering for sale Christmas tree ornaments to benefit Tenzin Kinchok, a 12-year-old Tibetan child whom the church has been sponsoring since 2003. The young girl lives in the Tibetan Refugee Self-Help Center in Darjeeling, India.
Helping charitable causes is nothing new for the Cornwall church, which has an active mission that has supported such organizations as the local summer lunch program, landmine detection dogs, fuel assistance, the Heifer Project, the Vermont Food Bank, the local food shelf, foster children, Helping Overcome Poverty’s Effects (HOPE), the John Graham Emergency Homeless Shelter, and Committee On Temporary Shelter in Burlington.
Mengesha and Rotich raised around $300 through the Alternative Market last year and they are pleased to be able to return for this year’s event.
“(The $300) was definitely more than we expected,” Rotich said during a phone interview. “It was great.”
Funds gathered from the market helped provide shelter, food, clothing and school supplies for very poor children in Ethiopia and Kenya, according to Rotich, who is majoring in economics and psychology at Middlebury.
It was an experience that allowed the two young women to lobby for their cause beyond the college campus.
“We were able to meet a lot of people and make a connection,” Rotich said.
Anyone seeking more information on the Alternative Market may call 349-0995 or 462-2012.
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected].

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