Published: Dec 01, 2012 8:14 AM EST
Updated: Dec 01, 2012 9:14 AM EST

CHARLOTTE COUNTY, Fla.- One local church believes people are tired of the over commercialization of Christmas, and would love the opportunity to put the real meaning back into the celebration of the season.

Christ Community United Methodist Church, 27000 Sunnybrook Rd., in the Harbour Heights area of Punta Gorda, will host it's first Alternative Christmas Market on Sat., Dec 8 from 10 - 2.  The church’s mission for this event is to provide an alternative to the commercial holiday shopping experience, and enhance the public’s awareness of local non-profits that serve our community.

Laverne Roberts says, "we have gotten a great response from all the agencies that we contacted about this event.  We had many more that couldn’t do it this year due to prior commitments, but are planning on participating next year.  As far as we know, nothing like this has been done before in this area.  The non-profits are excited to have the opportunity to talk to the public and educate the public about their many missions in our community.

15 local non-profit agencies that will be participating.  They are: Backpack Kidz, Harry Chapin Food Bank, Charlotte County Animal Welfare League, Tidewell Hospice, Charlotte County Healthy Start Coalition, Chamber of Hope, Good Samaritans of Charlotte County, Just Against Children Drowning, Peace River Wildlife Center, Alzheimer’s Association, Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, C.H.A.P.S., Charlotte County Homeless Coalition, Toys for Tots, UMCOR: United Methodist Committee on Relief

These agencies will provide shopping opportunities to honor the recipients on your gift list.  Shoppers may choose gifts from any of the participating agencies in the form of a donation, and when they check out, will receive a personalized gift card to give to their gift recipient.   One example would be:  Aunt Betty loves dogs, but can’t have a pet where she lives, so Sally donates $25. to the Animal Welfare League and gives a gift card to give to Aunt Betty that states that a $25. sponsorship was given in her name to help toward the care of a shelter animal.

Admission is free and 100% of the donation amount will go to the non-profit from whom the gift was purchased.