Alternative presents a gift for the giver, too

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Whether it is our custom, ritual, requirement or obligation, we all are probably making a list and checking it twice to make sure we have not left out someone we "need" to give a gift to.

Some of us may go overboard and collect many gifts for that special someone, or for our grandchildren. We may also pick up a "little something" just in case someone we don't have on our list should favor us, so we will be ready to reciprocate.

If your Aunt Mimi doesn't need or want another box of scented powder, or box of candy, she may be hard to shop for. Often the dilemma is how to say a special thank you without making the gift too personal (or expensive). Faith Communities for Sustainability recommends you give a real and significant gift to someone locally who needs it, and send a card telling Aunt Mimi that in her honor a needy person has been blessed by something they truly need.

Our recommended list includes:

Twenty one-way bus tickets that don't expire, for someone without transportation -- $15. These may be purchased from HelpLine or Valley Transit and distributed by HelpLine, 16 S. Colville St.

Scholarships for GED or ESL -- $25. This will enable an adult to participate for a quarter's study at Farm Labor Homes or Walla Walla Community College, either to improve the use of the English language, or to advance toward a high school equivalency certificate. Last year three people gave 17 scholarships for our grandchildren and 17 women at Farm Labor Homes learned English for the first time. The Migrant Head Start program provided day care for their children, which enabled them to focus on their class work. These scholarships are available from Friends of Farm Labor Homes, c/o Cindy Gregoire, Treasurer FFLH, 2904 Old Milton Highway, Walla Walla, WA 99362. Scholarship contributions may also be made to WWCC.

Scholarship for a garden plot at the Community Garden at Rees and Sumach -- $30. Recipients will be asked to pay $10 toward their plots, to help assure they value the opportunity to garden and produce food for their family and perhaps their neighbors. Contact: Rees & Sumach Community Garden, PO Box 1222, Walla Walla, WA 99362, e-mail rees.sumach@charter.net or call 509-522-0399.

Diapers are always welcome and can be delivered to the YWCA, Catholic Charities, or HelpLine. We suggest you consider the bio-degradable ones, which are available at several grocery stores in the area.

This year we have added bikes to the gift list. Your old bike which is just taking up space, or one you might purchase at a rummage sale, yard sale or other shopping outlet, will help meet transportation needs for those who desperately need the ability to get around. These old bikes will be repaired by the Community Center for Youth participants. They will be trained in bike repair, learn a new skill and discover the rewards in an opportunity to give back to their community. Contact: Gary Lunden, executive director, at 509-526-2571 or director@wwccy.org.

Another new suggestion for yourself or someone else is the solar-powered emergency radio (and cell phone recharger) available from the local Red Cross, 175 S. Park St. -- $30. There are many other ideas in their Web store that would be valuable in emergency situations.

This list is our suggestions, most of which involve very little packaging or use of natural resources.

If you have a favorite charity to which you would like to donate in honor of someone, that's another fine idea. The opportunity to be helpful and supportive for those less fortunate in our community is always with us, and you may find that the greatest gift you have given is to yourself in knowing that you have made a difference in someone's life.

Sarita McCaw is a member of Faith Communities for Sustainability and is an elder at First Presbyterian Church in Walla Walla.

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