For a lot of people, Christmastime is about gift giving to family and friends as well as gift receiving. For a local church, Christmas is about thinking beyond those you know.

Grand Avenue Presbyterian Church in Sherman is participating in an alternative gift-giving market. The market began Sunday and will continue through the next three Sundays.

The alternative gift-giving market allows people to buy relief and self-development goods and animals for persons in need in the Third World countries. Cards are inscribed with the gifts purchased and sent to friends and relatives to inform them that an alternative gift was given in their honor.

“Nothing speaks louder from the Gospels than to think about others before thinking about self,” Laurie Mealy of the church said. “We want to demonstrate Jesus’ love in concrete ways. We want to honor someone else during this gift-giving time of year.”

This is the 23rd year that the church has participated in the market. Last year’s gifts included wheelchairs and other items to help victims of war and natural disasters.

There are 30 gifts on the Alternative Gift International website that people can choose from.

“Each year the categories are the same, but the gifts within the categories change,” Mealy said. “The categories range from children to food, planting trees and ecology to helping women through microloans and helping them build businesses to helping women who have dealt the human trafficking.”

Gifts in the market also include items to help with sheltering homeless, helping fund traveling dental clinics, coffee and chocolate farming, bicycles for health workers, glasses for children, libraries for educational materials and money for early cancer screenings. Gifts also include money to build fresh wells and funding to protect coral reefs and sea turtles.

“There are many reasons why this is important, but one of the most important reasons is that it makes other people’s lives better,” Mealy said.

You do not have to attend Grand Avenue Presbyterian to buy a gift through Alternative Gift International. More information about the market can be found at

The international nonprofit Samaritan’s Purse offers a similar program where donors can give to fund such things as a dairy animal for a family that will provide milk for the family and a surplus they can sell. For more visit