Yale students fought hunger with goats, llamas and samba at Dwight Hall Sunday afternoon.
Reach Out, an undergraduate association committed to fostering global awareness and responsibility, sponsored an alternative gift market where shoppers could donate money to charities in someone’s name instead of giving the person a traditional gift. Shoppers were able to give money to charities that buy livestock for impoverished families in Bolivia and Laos. Many of the charities were for projects focused on decreasing world hunger or addressing global medical needs. Reach Out board member Jocelyn Lippert ’04 said in an e-mail that the group had raised over $4,000.
Erin McCreless ’03, a Reach Out board member and the event’s primary organizer, said she had seen alternative gift markets at several churches and thought the event would work well with Yale students. She said Alternative Gifts International and the Heifer Project International helped her organize the event. Both organizations are non-profit corporations that encourage people to buy gifts that help solve global problems.
“When you give kids a chance to do something [charitable] like this, they’ll do it,” McCreless said.
McCreless said she had two main goals — to raise money and to get people excited about helping others. She said she thought Reach Out achieved both goals.
Guilford resident Robert Sperry said McCreless asked him to bring Zephyr, one of his goats, to attract people. Sperry, an active participant in the Heifer Project, said a goat symbolizes a solution to poverty because goats can provide meat, milk and hides. Other live animals included a guinea hen and four chickens.
Lippert, who helped McCreless organize the event, said the event allowed shoppers to buy more meaningful gifts.
“Around the holiday season, people want to buy gifts and a lot of times people end up buying something for the sake of buying something,” Lippert said.
Lippert is a former Yale Daily News staff reporter.
Lippert said a major criterion for the market’s projects was sustainability. The gift must help the families for as long as possible, she said.
Meara Palmer-Young ’06 worked at the market when she was not too busy dancing to samba music. She said the market was intended to remind people the holiday season is a time for giving, not receiving.
Damon Nakamura ’04, who was shopping at the market, said he liked the gifts because they were practical.
“I think I’m just getting [gifts] for my family,” Nakamura said. “It’s better than giving them random [gifts].”
Os Malandros, a samba band, provided the philanthropic shoppers with live music.
“We’re just the hired help,” band member Silas Meredith ’04 said. “Well, no. We’re the volunteer help.”