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Alternative Gift Fair showcases the work of local artisans for the benefit of local non-profits

Unique handcrafted items and live music set to enrich Riverside's annual charitable event this december.

The First United Methodist Church of Riverside, located at 4845 Brockton Avenue, will host the annual Alternative Gift Fair on Sunday, Dec. 3, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. This unique event, a tradition in Riverside, offers a variety of handcrafted gifts, with proceeds benefiting numerous non-profit organizations.

The fair, a Rieverside staple since 1981, is known for its distinct approach to holiday shopping, which features booths from local and international artisans and non-profits. Among the offerings are fabric arts, handmade foods, books, baskets, and crafts. Notable participants include 10,000 Villages, United Women in Faith, Heifer International, Inlandia Institute, Riverside Food Co-op, Assistance League Thrift Store, and many others. Each booth supports various causes, from Cal State San Bernardino student aid to initiatives aiding the unhoused population and animal shelters.

A highlight of this year’s fair is the participation of new vendors like artist Rebecca Waring-Crane, whose project “Empty” involves the sale of ceramic bowls to support food-insecure students in the Alvord Unified School District. The Guatemala Project, another new addition, offers handwoven bags and baskets to fund clean water initiatives in Guatemala. Local artist Martha Burns will showcase crocheted figures, with proceeds going to the non-profit “Feel Better Friends.”
Musical entertainment will be provided by the Inland Recorder Society and Bob Palmer, featuring a range of instruments, including the mountain dulcimer. A simple soup lunch will be available, and parking is free.

The Alternative Gift Fair, initiated in 1981 at First Christian Church, moved to its current location over a decade ago to accommodate more visitors and a larger parking area. The fair has since expanded its mission, welcoming individuals from various faith traditions. Kris Lovekin, the Fair's current organizer, emphasizes the fair’s inclusive nature and role as an alternative to traditional mall shopping.

This event offers Riversiders a chance to purchase unique, handmade items and contribute to charitable causes, making each purchase a “gift to the world,” as Lovekin describes. The city is invited to experience this distinctive shopping opportunity while supporting a wide range of philanthropic efforts.