ashland.news
July 14, 2024

Abundance Swap returns to Historic Ashland Armory after pandemic hiatus

Abundance Faire founder Jeff Golden, at right, on the stage at Historic Ashland Armory before the beginning of an undated Abundance Faire. Photo via John Darling's Facebook page
December 12, 2023

Giving event aimed at fostering community, celebrating generosity

By Holly Dillemuth, Ashland.news 

After a three-year hiatus, the annual Abundance Swap returns to Ashland on Sunday, Dec. 17.

Everyone is invited to the Ashland Armory from 1:15 to 2:30 p.m., to bring three quality items from their homes to swap with those in the community and, in exchange, participants can also leave with three items. 

The family-friendly event was started between 2000 and 2001 by Ashland resident and now state Sen. Jeff Golden State Sen. (D-Ashland). It was curbed for the past few years during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Every single year, people have gotten in touch to ask, ‘When are you going to do the abundance swap (again)?” Golden told Ashland.news in a phone interview.

“As I thought about it, I went, ‘You know, it’s time,’” he added.

Participants are asked not to bring items they just bought from the store but to choose from  items they already own that reflect their generosity.

Golden advised getting to the Armory by 1:15 p.m. Participants will be given instructions on how to navigate the swap, and will be divided into groups of shoppers who will have several minutes to select three items.

Something new about the event this year is participants are asked to bring one or two nice, underused toys that will be given to an organization benefiting underprivileged families. The toys are encouraged in addition to bringing three items to swap.

In past years, individuals have donated unique items that reflect their generosity, such hand-crafted bunk beds, beautiful water features, jewelry, collectibles, and even a 1992 Ford Galaxy.

The event involves no money, Golden said.

“We don’t ask for donations,” Golden said.  

The Armory donates the space, which can attract as many as 400 people. 

“Shoppers” peruse gift offerings at an undated Abundance Faire. Photo via the Live at the Armory web page
Swap offers families, kids a chance to give gifts

Golden said several years into starting the event, around the 2008 and 2009 recession, he 

started hearing from attendees that the event was one of the only ways they could provide their children with gifts around the holidays.

“It kind of migrated from an event that we thought reflected our values, more than the shopping malls did during holiday shopping, to kind of a lifeline for people who were having a rough time, and I think that’s still the case,” Golden said.

It’s his hope that people gift three things they take to those they care about, regardless of the holiday they celebrate.

Origins of the swap at turn of Millennium

The abundance swap first began in 2000 or 2001, Golden said, at a time when Black Friday shopping was really ramping up, and in some places nationally, there were riots over shoppers vying for the best deals on gifts.

Golden recalled talking about this at the time as a host on JPR’s The Jefferson Exchange.

“I’m not a religious expert, but I don’t think this is what the holy people of the season had in mind,” Golden said.

He and others around him said, “How could we keep the gift giving, but tamp down the consumption? We went, a lot of us already have a bunch of nice stuff already. Just talking with folks about it, this is the concept we came up with, which has been modified over the years, but it’s still basically what we started with.”

He encourages individuals not to just drop off items and leave without taking part to receive three gifts of their own. 

Individuals are also welcome to bring finger foods to share at the event. Cookies and tea will be available, and a chance for participants to share stories about the items they brought.

“We also want people to meet each other,” he said. “This is a celebration of generosity and community.”

For more information about the event, go to abundanceswap.org.

Reach Ashland.news staff reporter Holly Dillemuth at hollyd@ashland.news.

Picture of Bert Etling

Bert Etling

Bert Etling is the executive editor of Ashland.news. Email him at betling@ashland.news.

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