For more than a decade, the Mitzvah Mall has offered the Anchorage community an opportunity to get a jump on holiday shopping, while benefiting worthy nonprofit organizations. This year is no different, as the Mitzvah Mall returns to the Congregation Beth Sholom this Sunday, Nov. 17.

Penny Goodstein, an organizer of Mitzvah Mall, said the holiday bazaar has unique qualities.

"It's like a craft bazaar, except that the only thing anybody gets from donating money is a card,” Goodstein explained. "People give money in somebody’s name. They can donate money to a nonprofit for grandma, or aunt or uncle, or whatever.”

The card is personalized, explaining to the recipient where the money will go. Goodstein says there will even be a calligrapher on hand for those concerned about penmanship.

“It’s fun," she said. "They have music. Arctic Siren Productions has organized live music, and we have birds come and dogs come, it’s fun. It’s a festive event.”

User: Mitzvah Mall To: link

Over 30 nonprofit organizations will be represented, including:

  • AK Child & Family
  • Alaska Bird Project
  • Alaska Botanical Garden
  • Alaska Huts
  • Alaska Innocence Project
  • Alaska Wildbird Rehabilitation
  • American Diabetes Association
  • Anchorage Project Access
  • Anchorage School Based Health Centers
  • Anchorage Youth Court
  • Bean's Cafe/Children's Lunchbox
  • Catholic Social Services
  • Clear Creek Cat Rescue
  • Downtown Soup Kitchen Hope Center
  • F.I.S.H.
  • Friends of the Library
  • Helping Hands for Nepal
  • Joy Greisen Jewish Education Center (JEC)
  • Lemong'o Project
  • Letters of Love
  • Malawi Children's Village
  • Mobile Medics
  • National Crisis Response Canines
  • Parachutes Teen Center
  • Pedals for Africa
  • Turnagain Community Arts Alliance
  • United Jewish Communities of Alaska

Tom Nighswander, a board member for the Malawi Children's Village organization, said money raised in the past at the Mitzvah Mall has gone directly to children in need in the East African nation of Malawi.

“[Malawi Children's Village is] an AIDS orphans project," explained Nighswander. "The country was ransacked by HIV/AIDS and it left in a population of these 38 villages, in a total population of about 30,000 there are 3,000 orphans.”

Nighswander said the nonprofit has been involved with Mitzvah Mall from the beginning and has always been appreciative of the money raised locally for the children of Malawi.

“In a subsistence culture, if you have an orphan, it is really a stretch," he said. "You have to raise all your own food. And so if you have an orphan, you get assistance for housing, for water, for extra food, for clothes for those kids.

"And it’s run by Malawians, it has a board of directors, board of trustees [in Africa]. And we really here in the states, are a fundraising board.”

It's one of many nonprofits that will be represented Sunday. Goodstein says to pick a cause and give the gift of giving this holiday season.

The Mitzvah Mall takes place Sunday, Nov. 17 from noon to 3 p.m. at Congregation Beth Sholom. The temple is located at 7525 E. Northern Lights Boulevard in Anchorage.

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