A fair trade for charity | SteamboatToday.com

A fair trade for charity

Work of Human Hands benefits artisans in developing countries

Margaret Hair

When Work of Human Hands fair trade craft bazaar organizers look through a catalog to select items to sell, they find stories from the wood-carvers, papermakers and jewelers who produce those items.

There’s the story of Ragi, a West Bank resident who specializes in olive tree carvings and uses proceeds from fair trade crafts to support his five children. Or Marta, a Chilean woman who makes jewelry from recycled paper with five other women to provide an income for their homes.

“It personalizes it,” event organizer Julie Alkema said of the artisans’ stories. For the 11th annual Work of Human Hands craft fair, parishioners at Holy Name Catholic Church ordered about 25 boxes of fair trade arts and crafts from 29 developing countries. Most items sell for $5 to $15, and proceeds go to SERRV International, the organization that provides the crafts. The event doesn’t serve as a fundraiser for the church; instead it gives income to artisans in developing countries, Alkema said.

“We’re helping other people,” she said. “We don’t know them, but we’re helping other people.”

In its 11th year, the event has grown from just a few boxes of items for sale to a community holiday shopping event. From 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Saturday and 9 to 11 a.m. Sunday, Holy Name’s basement parish hall will be open to shoppers, with most of the room filled by craft display tables. A bake sale will run through the day Saturday, and there will be a soup supper and shopping event from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. that day.

“It’s grown a lot over the years, and I think this is the biggest range of countries we’ve ever had,” Alkema said. Event organizer Diane Anderson said Work of Human Hands tries to offer a new variety of items each year.

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“It’s always hard to decide if you should buy more of the same as the last year,” Anderson said. Some of the craft fair’s more popular items – such as handmade drums, woven baskets and affordable jewelry – are back, with new additions including hand-painted cat ornaments.

SERRV International is a nonprofit alternative trade organization that promotes economic and social progress for people in developing regions. The organization provides a 10 percent sales cushion to send back those items that don’t sell. Event organizers said any part of that cushion not used for shipping will go to LIFT-UP of Routt County.