There is a lot about the Christmas season that’s different this year thanks to the pandemic, but one thing hasn’t changed: shopping. People are still going to exchange gifts, whether they come from online or a brick-and-mortar store.
As you do your shopping this year, consider taking a more local approach by supporting area businesses, and artists and crafters. Or put your faith into action by purchasing religious-themed gifts or by giving to a Catholic charitable organization. Here are some suggestions:
Keep it local
Instead of buying trendy electronics, toys or clothes, consider supporting a local crafter by buying one-of-a-kind handmade items. Many artists and crafters who rely on festivals for their sales are hurting this year because events were cancelled.
If your parish has any crafters, consider purchasing from them. The South Carolina Artisans Center in Walterboro has an online shop with products by the artists they feature at scartisanscenter.com.
You can also find South Carolina artists on Etsy.com, a site that features handmade and vintage items. Click on the search bar and type “Shop location” plus the name of the city or town you are interested in, and online wares from the area will pop up.
Help those in need
The pandemic has caused the number of people in need to skyrocket around the state and the world. Consider using part of your gifting budget to donate to organizations helping the poor.
Check to see if your parish or another local church has a giving tree or other program to help needy kids or seniors. People can also donate to their local St. Vincent de Paul Society.
Catholic Charities in South Carolina has been responding to an increased number of people impacted by loss of jobs and income caused by the pandemic. Food pantries are especially busy and in need of donations, along with clothes closets.
People can also sponsor a child through the International Ministries of the diocese at https://missions-doc.org. Donations help children in Guatemala through Project San Pedro, which provides food, clothing, medical care and education.
Catholic Relief Services offers help to the poor and vulnerable in more than 100 countries. Currently, donations are especially needed to help hurricane victims in Central America. Visit www.crs.org. The agency also runs an online store that promotes ethical trade by selling items from small businesses around the world at shop.equalexchange.coop.
Support religious orders
People can also find Catholic gifts and help our religious orders at the same time.
Pauline Books & Media at 243 King Street in Charleston is full of spiritual gift ideas, from Bibles and books to CDs, religious statues and jewelry.
Sister Margaret Kerry of the Daughters of St. Paul noted her personal recommendation is “In Caelo Et in Terra – 365 Days with the Saints.” This hardback, illustrated book written by the Daughters of St. Paul tells the stories of 365 saints, and includes daily reflections and prayers.
You can find other recommendations from the Pauline Sisters for Christmas gifts at paulinestore.com/christmasgifts. The Charleston store is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday-Saturday. Masks are required and there is a limit on the number of shoppers in the store at one time. Curbside pickup is also available.
Mepkin Abbey at 1098 Mepkin Abbey Road in Moncks Corner also has a gift shop full of unique items.
The grounds of the Trappist monastery are mostly closed to visitors because of the pandemic, but the store is open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Three people are permitted to shop at a time, and masks are required.
The store offers arts and crafts by local, national and international artisans, plus religious items and a large selection of books. Foodies will be captivated by two Mepkin cookbooks: “Food for Thought: Mepkin Abbey Fare” by Father Joseph Tedesco, and “Baking with Brother Boniface,” featuring recipes developed by the late Brother Boniface Schnitzbauer.
Special items are the dried mushrooms grown at Mepkin and fruitcakes made by the monks. Order those gifts online at mepkinabbey.org/our-work.