The annual Highlands Presbyterian Church Alternative Gift Fair will take place from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 17.

Lori Searfoss is chairwoman of the mission committee at the church, 6909 Smoky Row Road in Columbus.

She said she has organized the gift fair for the past nine years but it was already going strong when she joined in 2000.

"It's an alternative to giving gifts that are just going to benefit one person," Searfoss said. "These gifts benefit the people who need help and honor the recipient of the gift. It's a gift that gives twice."

"It's a way for people to give back when they're making choices for holiday giving," said Alissa Head, manager of the Short North Global Gifts store, which will participate in the fair.

The nonprofit store, which also has three locations in Indiana, offers clothing, jewelry, toys and other fair-trade products. The store's website said purchases support fair wages, gender equity and safe and dignified working conditions.

Other participants in the event will include Equal Exchange, another fair-trade operation for small farmers; Homes for Mozayik, Haiti, which offers assistance to a small community devastated by the 2010 earthquake; Heifer International, through which people can provide farm animals to people in need around the world; Presbyterian Disaster Assistance, an emergency and refugee program of the Presbyterian Church USA that currently is concentrating on helping hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico; and Worthington-based Montana de Luz, founded 16 years ago as a hospice for children in Honduras with HIV/AIDS who are either orphans or whose parents had become too ill to care for them.

Now that more treatment options are available in Honduras, executive director Morgan Brown said Montana de Luz is working on reuniting children with their families.

Promotion of the nonprofit's mission at events like the Highlands Presbyterian Church Alternative Gift Fair is invaluable, Brown said.

"It's so helpful to be able to find sponsors for our children who have really acute medical needs," he said.

Outreach and education are also part of the mission for Global Gifts, which is another reason for participating in the church's fair, Head said.

"It definitely helps with that," she said.

Church members who serve on the mission committee help determine which organizations will be invited to the Alternative Gift Fair, Searfoss said.

"I think that it's the basis of our faith to see God's people in need and do something about it, rather than ignoring it or just giving gifts that help the bottom line of stockholders of companies that are already wealthy," Searfoss said. "I think it's the whole reason we are Christians in the first place."

kparks@thisweeknews.com

@KevinParksTW1