Organizations offer alternatives to typical Christmas gifts

NANAIMO – Putting a crimp in Christmas commercialism takes just a slight shift in thinking.

Sources for thinking outside the gift box often aren’t found in the shopping malls, which helps avoid lineups and jammed parking lots.

It’s hard to go wrong with giving books at Christmas – they don’t have to be new, either. Rummaging through used book stores can unearth old treasures and purchasers can promote literacy buying from stores like Literacy Central Vancouver Island’s Well Read Books in downtown Nanaimo.

Supporting Canadian producers, artists and authors, especially those in Nanaimo and on the Island, is easy at Strong Nations, located on Island Diesel Way.

The company started as a home-based online book retailer, but evolved into a publishing house for aboriginal writers from across Canada. Strong Nations also retails handbags, clothing, jewelry, teas, chocolates, art and even puppets.

There is a large section of aboriginal books for teachers, researchers, post-secondary students and those who want to improve their understanding and knowledge of First Nations culture.

“That’s exactly what we’re all about is building bridges across cultures,” said Terri Mack, store co-owner.

Support people overseas by buying a goat or chickens for a family in an impoverished nation. Organizations, such as Plan Canada, handle the purchase and delivery of farm livestock, including goats, chickens, sheep and pigs plus training in livestock management, allowing families to start small breeding and production businesses that provide financial security.

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Global Village in Longwood Station focuses on fair trade products from South America, India, Southeast Asia and Africa. Most everything in the store is handmade and there’s a story behind most products. Arghand soap is handmade by women in Afghanistan.

“There was a woman who was over in Afghanistan, who was a reporter, and she started this business up,” said Joan Hiemstra, Global Village operations manager. “The women produce it and there’s a church somewhere down in the States that imports it … and now here we are on Vancouver Island selling that soap.”

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