Redefining gift giving, local charities
The holiday season is known as a time of giving, which, as Dianne Daley Laursen points out, can be particularly stressful on a college budget.
Daley Laursen, co-founder of the Alternative Giving Market of the Palouse, paired up with Renee Hill in 2009 to provide Moscow residents with what she said was a meaningful affordable alternative to gift giving that shows appreciation for loved ones during the holiday season while also supporting local nonprofits.
“The clincher when we first started was to give meaningful gifts from the heart,” Daley Laursen said. “It’s a way to support nonprofits in the Palouse and it is a way to give family and friends something more than just another pair of socks or a scarf during the holidays.”
The Alternative Giving Market is open throughout the year, but Dec. 13 the market closes for the holidays. It includes a collection of 32 local nonprofits for residents to make donations under a loved one’s name.
Daley Laursen said one of the founding ideas of the program was to utilize the gifts of the Palouse and market them in new ways.
Daley Laursen, who has fond memories of shucking peas and corn with her grandmother when she was younger, said she made a donation to the Moscow nonprofit, Backyard Harvest, the first year the market was open. She said her donation helped provide the non-profit with a low-income community garden, with rows of peas and corn, on behalf of her grandmother.
“My grandmother taught me the importance of giving meaningful gifts from the heart,” Daley Laursen said. “And making a donation was a way to honor those memories with her, while also giving back to our own low-income community gardens.”
The idea for the Alternative Giving Market of the Palouse was one both Daley Laursen and Hill had independently, according to Hill.
Hill said she first became interested in the idea after encountering an operation similar to the Alternative Giving Market while attending graduate school in New York. Daley Laursen said thought of the idea because she was looking for a way to bring the Moscow community closer together during the holiday season.
“We both wanted to bring something like this, where you could make a donation to a nonprofit and buy holiday gifts, to Moscow,” Hill said.
What began as an idea to bring the community together turned into an ever-growing operation, Daley Laursen said.
“In our first year we raised just under $6,000, and now we raise around $25,000 a year,” Daley Laursen said.
For the main event of the season, the Alternative Giving Market held an event at the 1912 Center in downtown Moscow last week. Donations can still be made at the Buy Local WinterFest event, the Palouse Mall on Saturday from noon to 5 p.m., and online.
“Two-thirds of our donations are received online,” Daley Laursen said. “We definitely have seen an upward trend in the growth of what we’ve raised every year and we hope we can keep that going for a while.”
Hill said even with the market’s current success, they still hope to improve upon the community operation.
“The biggest challenge right now is to broaden our audience,” Hill said. “We would like to see people of all socioeconomic backgrounds, of all inclinations and of all orientations to find this as a viable option for affordable and meaningful gift giving.”
An additional audience the duo would like to reach, Hill said, is Moscow’s student population.
“We would love for students to see the market as a way to give gifts to their family and friends,” Hill said. “That way they can take back pieces of the Palouse to the ones they love and share their community experience with them.”
Daley Laursen and Hill said they ultimately aim to emphasize the impact peoples’ donations have on building and strengthening the Palouse as a whole.
“It’s the idea of organic, local farmers donating produce to the local food bank, or the Moscow Human Rights Club raising money to feed breakfast to kids in Haiti that’s important,” Daley Laursen said. “The idea that you can take a gift from the Palouse and that it will allow you to honor the people you love in a meaningful way.”
Corrin Bond can be reached at email@example.com