IJM offers Fair Trade holiday gifts

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December 5, 2007

11:05 PM

Every cent you spend supports something. Whether you consciously support a charity or unconsciously contribute to child labor, people will be affected by the way you use your money. And so, for the holiday season, International Justice Mission is hosting an alternative gift fair to give you the option of rejecting consumerism and choosing your community.

p. International Justice Mission is hosting its third annual Alternative Gift Fair Wednesday, Dec. 5 from 4 to 8 p.m. in the University Center Tidewater. Fellowships, service trips and advocacy groups from campus and the Williamsburg community will be selling holiday gifts. All the money will be used for charitable causes, represented by 11 different groups.

p. Sarah Klotz ’08, financing sales chair for Students for Fair Trade, will sell fair trade chocolate and handmade crafts. The crafts, including handmade journals, purses and coffee cups, come from Imani, a group that Klotz met over the summer in Kenya. Students for Fair Trade will send all profits to cooperatives, which help developing communities become self-sustaining.

p. Students Helping Honduras is fundraising for Copprome Orphanage. “We’ll be selling holiday cards designed by the children and all of the proceeds will go to the children in the orphanage,” SHH President Wendy Chan ’08 said. The group will be in Honduras Jan. 6 through 13 building houses in a refugee village and spending time at the orphanage.

p. Chan and Klotz both did some of their own shopping at last year’s gift fair. Klotz said the diversity of the gifts attracted her to the fair. “There’s unique stuff from all over the world, and it’s all beautiful and handmade and you know the money goes to a good cause. You know you are helping the rest of the world and making good choices,” she said.

p. Chan was especially drawn to the jewelry, “I really liked it — there were really cool earrings,” she said. “I thought the jewelry stand was a big hit. And you feel like the money you spend is going somewhere worthwhile.”

p. International Justice Mission itself will sell decorative stars to hang in windows. The money will go to the international branch, which is sending Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner nurses to Guatemala to address the high rate of unprosecuted rape. In addition to supporting such groups, International Justice Mission uses the fair to build bridges among campus groups.

p. “I think it’s a cool event because there are a lot of cool groups on campus that I don’t always know about,” International Justice Mission President Nik Belanger ’10 said. “And getting all the groups together in one place is a lot of networking, letting you know who’s out there doing the same stuff.”

p. Martha Morris ’08, the gift fair coordinator for International Justice Mission, started planning for the event in early November. “We invite groups and tell them we look for the money to go directly to people, she said. “Last year we had a group raise over $1,000, which is a huge achievement.”

p. Morris also brought up the convenience of the gift fair. “During finals it can be hard for students to think about shopping and to get off campus. At the gift fair, you can find nice things for presents without having to go off campus during a busy time.”

p. Organizations participating in gift fair

p. Developing Tomorrow: Destination China — authentic Chinese goods
Common Ground — CDs
Tidewater Labor Support Committee — items not made in sweatshops
WM SOMOS — photographs
Wesley Foundation & WM Nothing But Nets campaign — t-shirts, donation cards
Maasai-American Student Association — fair trade Kenyan jewelry
Students for Fair Trade — fair trade items
Students Helping Hondurans — Christmas cards
GVP & WM Habitat — scarves
Project Mexico: May — various items

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