Annual Alternative Christmas Market set Nov. 23 at Solana Beach Presbyterian

We all have people on our list who are tough to buy gifts for: They have everything they need or want; they live out of town and you have no idea what they might like; they’re downsizing; or they’re just plain picky.

Instead of struggling to select a gift destined to be unappreciated, Solana Beach Presbyterian Church offers the 29th annual Alternative Christmas Market on Nov. 23, where you can meet with representatives from 32 different ministry partners who will show how you can donate a gift that will change lives. The ministries span San Diego County and the globe. For example:

• A gift of $1 can purchase 40 doses of medicine carried in a medic’s backpack to treat refugees in Burma.

• A $2 gift can provide a hot meal to a homeless, unemployed, poor or elderly person in downtown San Diego.

• A $10 bill can buy a book for a new school library for the Afar people of the eastern Ethiopian desert, or plant an orchard of 10 trees to benefit rural subsistence-level farmers.

• A $20 gift can purchase a large, warm blanket for a flood-victim family in northern India, or pay for 12 meals provided to the homeless at the San Diego Rescue Mission, or pay for dental cleaning, fluoride, exam, X-rays, and sealants or a filling in Solana Beach for children without health insurance.

• A $50 donation could pay the tuition for a veteran or active-service member to complete a sustainable agriculture training program through Cal Poly Pomona at Archi’s Acres in Escondido.

• A $110 gift could provide the supplies to drill a community fresh-water well to save a village in southern Sudan from drinking water from polluted rivers and streams.

The event also features the 10,000 Villages Craft Market with handmade items supporting low-income artisans from around the world, and Christmas Wish Trees decorated with stars listing gift wishes of local foster children.

“This event helps us reclaim the original inspiration behind Christmas: love for the world,” said Tom Theriault, outreach pastor. “We step off the well-worn holiday treadmill of giving more to those who already have a lot, and return to the path of love that gives to those suffering a lot.”

Another reason for the market’s popularity is that the full amount of the donation goes directly to the mission partner. “Many people who are not part of our church find the ACM to be a very meaningful way to give gifts that count,” Theriault added, explaining that the 32 mission partners are well-known with track records of effective work,

Over the course of nearly three decades, Theriault said, the ACM has raised $2.5 million, and raised an average of $100,000 over the past five years. “This translates to hope and opportunity for tens of thousands of people here in San Diego and all over the world.”

The event runs from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at 120 Stevens Ave., Solana Beach. Learn more about the mission partners or donate directly from the website at