Fair Trade Gifts for Sale in Campus Center

By KATRINA TULLOCH ([email protected])

International Week at Allegheny included the addition of a sale held in the Campus Center by the Fair Trade Certified organization 10,000 Villages.

10,000 Villages is one of the world’s oldest and largest Fair Trade organizations.  They work with over 130 artisan groups in 38 countries to sell their products so the artisans can earn fair wages and have the opportunity for a better quality of life, according to the 10,000 Villages web site.

Kirsten Ohmer, ’11, a Bonner Leader, was the student coordinator who helped to bring 10,000 Villages to campus this semester and last spring.

“10,000 Villages tries to give as much money as possible to the artisans of the products in developing countries,” Ohmer said.

“It’s great that we can sell their products here because they just wouldn’t be able to sell them in their own countries,” she added.

The 10,000 Villages sale was initially scheduled for later in the semester but was moved up to be part of International Week.

“We planned to hold the sale in December, for people to buy things as Christmas presents, but Jenny Kawata (the Director of International Programs and Services) asked if we’d like to move it up to be part of this great week,” Ohmer said.

Students all across campus have had the opportunity to be part of the sale.

“We just asked for any volunteers from student organizations who would be willing to do a shift at the sale and we’ve been very impressed with the turnout,” Ohmer said.

Karen Feltz, ’12, a member of the service fraternity Alpha Phi Omega, was one of the volunteers who sold products at the sale.

“It’s a great program because the money goes directly to the artisans, not to random middle-men,” Feltz said.

Allegheny students have also made efforts to put some funds toward programs in the Meadville community.  This year, they plan to put money from the sale into Meadville’s Advocacy and Research Center (ARC) for children with mental disabilities.

“Last semester, the sale raised about $4,000,” Ohmer said.  “We would like to get more than that this semester.  We donated $600 of last semester’s money to the YMCA’s ‘Weigh to Win’ program, which helps seeks to help youths improve their body image.”

Erin Shipley, ’12, is a student in Professor Michael Maniates’ independent study to turn Meadville into a fully Fair Trade town.

“I think it’s cool that 10,000 Villages comes to campus because it really exposes students to Fair Trade products,” Shipley said.  “I especially like seeing them sell crafts instead of food, because then people can see that a variety of Fair Trade products are out there.”

Ohmer hopes 10,000 Villages will continue to sell their products at Allegheny every semester.  The sale is on the second floor of the Campus Center Tuesday through Thursday of this week, from 11a.m. to 6p.m.