Lucy Bowman patiently cuts out a scrap of design from a bit of old wall paper. The McPherson native holds her hand steady as she pastes the piece to a kitchen tile, ready to sell in a set of coasters.

Though a simple craft, these coasters will send girls to school around the world.

Lucy will sell her handmade coasters at the McPherson Church of the Brethren Alternative Christmas Gift Market on Nov. 11.

Rather than focus on simply purchasing gifts for loved ones, alternative gift markets allow shoppers to use the same money to support non-profits.

Lucy, a fifth grader at Washington Elementary School, is raising money for the Malala Fund.

Last year, she was given the opportunity to do a research project where she stumbled upon a story of a Pakistani girl named Malala Yousafzai. She is known for her international activism for female education, especially the education of women and children where she grew up in Pakistan, where the local Taliban had at times banned girls from attending school.

Lucy is giving the money she raises toward the Malala Fund organization, which funds building schools in Pakistan and sending girls to school. Lucy Bowman has raised over $1,200 by selling homemade coasters.

“I liked how brave she was and I wanted to make a difference too,” Lucy said. “It costs $53 to send one girl to school. Right now I have $1,200 and I think we sent over 24 or 25 girls to school.”

Lucy visited Roosevelt Elementary School, described her project, and students there have also created handmade coasters for Lucy to sell at the Christmas market.

Her coasters are made up of kitchen tiles with creative decorating paper to give them a special touch. They cost $2 each or $8 for a pack of four.

At the Christmas market, Lucy is hoping to raise between $200 to $400.

Since 2005, the McPherson Church of the Brethren has been hosting their annual Alternative Christmas Gift Market to support local and international non-profit organizations.

Event organizer Judy Stockstill believes that any donation, whether it's five dollars or $100, will be multiplied within the organization as its put to work.

"It allows a lot of education, you may not be able to give now, but in the future and become involved in the future. It brings the community together to see what good things are going on in our community as far as helping one another," Stockstill said. "That always doesn't happen in other communities, we really try to boost the dedication they're putting into their cause, all causes are worthy."

Other organizations featured at the event include Circles of McPherson County, Set Free, Mt. Hope Sanctuary, and Cedars Resident Assistance Fund.

By hosting the event, the church hopes to engage the community with organizations and nonprofits with connections to McPherson.

“This was established to help different nonprofit organizations in the community to get a little more exposure of a varied audience than what they were currently attracting,” said Stockstill

Stockstill is hopeful this event will bring awareness to McPherson for local and international causes.

"A lot of people in the community are in need, we're pretty isolated here in McPherson and everyone thinks its OK, but a lot of people in the community need services. We just try to work with that effort to help those organizations educate the public," she said.

Students from McPherson College will help volunteer at the event to earn service hours beyond worship service.

"We try to be very inclusive of the college in a lot of activities. This offers them an avenue to donate hours and work alongside booth participants or church members that are helping out. It gives them an avenue to help the community," Stockstill said.

The Christmas market is from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Nov. 11 at The Cedars Conference Center. The event is free and open to the public, but donations by organizations are appreciated.

For more information, visit Alternative Christmas Gift Market- McPherson, KS Facebook page or call Judy Stockstill at 620-242-3536 or email her at

Contact Brooke Haas by email at or follow her on Twitter @MacSentinel.