Making a difference

Published 11:00 pm Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Elizabeth Dawson, coordinator of the 2nd Annual Fair Trade Extravaganza to be held from 2 until 4 p.m. Nov. 18 at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Troy, is pictured with bead jewelry that was made from recycled paper by Ugandan women who are among the world’s working poor. Other items for sale at the Fair Trade Extravaganza include percussion instruments made in Africa from natural and recycled items and bath and body products made by women who have survived lives on the streets.

Fair trade extravaganza at St. Mark’s November 14

Not often is there an opportunity to make a purchase and also make a difference in the world. But the 2nd Annual Fair Trade Extravaganza and Bake Sale at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Troy on Saturday, Nov. 18 will provide that opportunity.

Elizabeth Dawson, event coordinator, said the purchase of fair trade gifts supports women artisans in Asia, Africa and the Americas.

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Fair Trade is both a market-based approach and a social movement committed to improving conditions for the working poor around the world and promoting responsible stewardship of the environment throughout the production process, Dawson said.

“The products that will be offered at St. Mark’s Fair Trade Extravaganza provide the only means of revenue for artisans and others in their communities,” she said. “The proceeds from all product sales will go toward supporting these struggling artisans and their communities. And, all products are fair trade, handcrafted and eco-friendly.”

The 2012 Fair Trade Extravaganza will feature more than 270 bead items from BeadsforLife, percussion instruments from Africa and bath and body products from Thistle Farms.

“In Uganda, women have an opportunity to find work and earn money by making paper bead products from recycled paper,” Dawson said. “The beads are made into colorful bracelets, necklaces and ear rings. We’ll have more than 250 bead products, ranging in price from five dollars to 15 dollars, to choose from and they make wonderful gifts.”

Dawson said that money in the hands of the women who create these products becomes savings, savings become hope and hope becomes opportunity and sustainable businesses are born.

The percussion instruments that will be featured at the Fair Trade Extravaganza are created from natural products and recycled items.

“These percussion instruments are especially wonderful for children who enjoy music,” Dawson said. “But they are rhythm instruments that anyone can enjoy. From Peru, we have a variety of handmade ornaments, including the wool sheep ornaments that were so popular at last year’s Fair Trade Extravaganza.”

Dawson said Thistle Farms is a social enterprise that is run by women who have survived lives of prostitution, trafficking, addition and life of the streets.

“These women create by hand natural body care products that are as good for the body as they are for the earth,” Dawson said. “Thistle Farms uses all natural ingredients and earth-friendly practices.”

Thistle Farm products will also include note cards made from all natural products.

Dawson said by choosing Fair Trade products, buyers are not only accessing high quality products, they are making a difference in the lives of the people who grow and craft the products.

The Fair Trade Extravaganza will also offer Advent calendars, some with chocolate treats, and a variety of baked goods, including cookies, cakes and pies. The proceeds from the bake sale will support the food bank at the church.

The Fair Trade Extravaganza will be from 2 until 4 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 18 at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church at 401 West College Street in Troy. Everyone is invited to come and support safe and healthy working conditions for farmers and artisans and create economic opportunities for marginalized producers.