A perfect solution for those hard to buy for people on your shopping list

By Katherine Tellez

December 10, 2013 Updated Dec 10, 2013 at 11:40 AM CDT

BLOOMINGTON, Ill.-- Christmas is a little more than two weeks away and we all have one or two people we just can't seem to cross off our list.

Now there's an answer to those people who have everything.

"It gives us an opportunity to donate to a worthwhile project and help someone we really don't know," Jean Cooper said.

Jean Cooper buys several gifts for her family and friends from the alternative Christmas market every year.

"It's a good way to donate to the different agencies and it's a fun thing for our grandkids to get a surprise," Cooper said.

Here's how it works:

First you pick from ten different organizations like Habitat for Humanity or Central Illinois Riding Therapy.

Next, you make a donation based on a service you want to provide. For example, a $15 donation buys a tape measure for Habitat for Humanity.

You can spend as little as $10 and as much as $200.

Instead of giving a store-bought gift you give a card that says a donation has been made in their honor.

"A lot of us already have all the sweaters that we need," said Vaughn Hoffman, Senior Minister at Wesley United Methodist Church.  "So to get a gift that's given on our behalf to an agency that's doing a lot of good could be meaningful."

The alternative market has been a part of the holiday season at Wesley United Methodist Church for four years.

So far it has raised more than $35,000.

"Even if they get an extra $500, it means a lot to that agency," said Karen Daudelin, Co-Director of the Alternative Christmas Market.

"The community here is very generous," said Jenna Walker, the program director at Central Illinois Riding Therapy.  "Their support helps us every year. They helped ride several riders last year and helped with vet bills and bedding and hay for the horses."

Those who make donations say giving to others in need is what the Christmas spirit is all about.

"I make donations because I really believe in the agencies and what they do," Daudelin said.

To make a donation, you can call the Wesley United Methodist Church at (309) 827-8046.

You can also view a list of participating agencies on the church website.

The market is open again next Sunday.

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