Gifts that Give Hope is a group of volunteers who work together to bring a unique holiday shopping experience to the Lancaster area through our annual gift fair... and beyond. We feature alternative gifts that support the work of non-profit organizations right here in Lancaster and working all over the world.
From Jenn Knepper, Founder, : "The impetus for PRESENT (which is now a movement resulting in year-long sustainable gift-giving) came as the result of pre-pandemic informal lunches in which I gathered with my friends from Upohar, Revolution Jewelry, Lush Bazaar, Stroopies, HumanKind Water, and beyond.
At the heart of our discussions and the unifying thread which brought us together was our shared passion to create jobs for individuals facing barriers to employment, supporting social enterprise and business for good companies, and to band together in such a way that our pooled resources and vision could make a greater impact than what we could accomplish individually."
In giving a brief overview of the origins of PRESENT, we must highlight the main event which brought many of us together: the alternative gift fair "Gifts that Give Hope." Lancaster's alternative gift fair was first launched in 2008 and was met with tremendous enthusiasm as people were able to partake in a completely different and unique way of experiencing a more meaning-filled holiday. One night back in November 2007, while Jenn Knepper, who is an RN, was at work, randomly (albeit fortuitously!) picked up a copy of the Patriot Newspaper where there was an article about a women's giving circle who were hosting an alternative gift fair in the Harrisburg area as one of their holiday service projects.
Jenn was riveted by the concept of simultaneously simplifying the holidays while infusing more meaning back into the giving season and proposed having a duplicate event in Lancaster. The Women's giving circle eventually evolved to be a nonprofit organization which exists to channel the energy and passion of committed community volunteers with the tools, resources and website to host an alternative gift fair in their hometown.
Lancaster has been consecutively hosting an alternative gift fair from 2008 forward (in 2020, there was a virtual fair because of the pandemic), which not only promotes altruistic giving through the purchase of alternative gifts, it is also a community event where holiday shoppers can purchase fair trade, social enterprise, environmentally friendly, business for good, locally & ethically sourced gifts as well as delicious tastes from around the world from some of Lancaster's tastiest food vendors. The annual alternative gift fair gives ethically minded & socially conscious shoppers a central location to "Put their money where their heart is" in terms of aligning their desire to live with intention throughout the year with their spending habits around the holidays. Oftentimes, individuals want to make more conscientious choices in recognizing the incredible potential they wield in galvanizing their purchasing purchase to cast a vote for the kind of world in which they want to live.
One evening at work, I happened to pick up a copy of the local newspaper and saw an article entitled, “Your Grandmother Doesn’t Need Another Sweater and Your Dad Doesn’t Need Another Tie.” My sentiments exactly. I continued reading, and learned about a Harrisburg, Pennsylvania-based women’s giving circle that was putting together an alternative gift fair as one of their holiday projects.
I had found myself growing disgruntled with the holiday season. It had started to seem like a blanket of consumerism and unrealistic expectations about what constitutes a meaningful experience.
I contacted the women’s giving circle in Harrisburg, told them how much I loved the idea, and that I wanted to replicate it in Lancaster. After meeting with the women, I came home with so many thoughts and ideas coursing through my brain. I proceeded to contact everyone I knew who would have a remote interest in helping me organize the first alternative gift fair in Lancaster.
I ended up working with Gifts that Give Hope, an umbrella organization that provides resources and tools for those who want to host their own alternative gift fair. The Lancaster Alternative Gift Fair debuted in November 2008, and has been going strong on the Saturday prior to Thanksgiving ever since.
PRESENT takes the concept and momentum and impetus of the alternative gift fair and aims to provide a pipeline to connect consumers with the products & services that provide dignified and respect-filled working environments, hand made, environmentally conscious gifts which we seek to support year round and not just efforts to do good around the holiday season. We believe that we use our purchasing power to cast a vote for the type of world in which we want to live: a more just, fair, peaceful and equitable environment where everyone can have access to the tools and resources to thrive.
Need more help? We recognize that our customers each have specific needs. Our gifts change regularly so continue to check back throughout the year. We'll be offering a sustainability passport in the next year where you can purchase non-profit organization gifts and enjoy year long shopping!
Contact us for our personalized gift services!
Be the first to hear about upcoming sales and new arrivals about the gift fair and year-long shopping with intention!