Holidays with Heart turns Gallagher into holiday marketplace

Local artisans and cooperatives from around the world sell handmade crafts to benefit low-income people | November 17, 2004

Holiday shoppers will find a handmade touch and a worthy cause at Holidays with Heart, a unique shopping event that features goods from local vendors and fair trade cooperatives around the world. The display takes place Friday, Nov. 19, 10:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m., at the Gallagher Student Center.

More than a dozen tables will sell items such as hand-painted wooden crafts from El Salvador, jewelry made by the Over-the-Rhine-based women's group, Sarah's Center, baskets from an Indiana-based Amish community and a Papua, New Guinea, cooperative, jewelry from India and Asia, and more. There are also hand-stamped greeting cards that can be purchased for a donation to a charity. Free refreshments are provided for all shoppers.

“These items are unique because you are purchasing an item directly from the person who made it or, in the case of the international crafts, from a cooperative that is helping lower income people sustain a better life, who have been compensated fairly and have worked under safe and humane conditions,” said Gillian Ahlgren, associate professor of theology.

A "fair trade” cooperative is a group that supports and works for the establishment of relationships between producers, wholesalers and retailers, which ensures fair wages and healthy working conditions.

Xavier students working on Holidays with Heart did so as one way of responding to the recent campus visit of young Bangladeshi garment workers, whose working conditions are extremely poor to the point of being dehumanizing. On Friday, there will be information available about the conditions in sweatshops throughout the world and there will be a place where people can sign and send postcards to companies, encouraging them to be accountable to fair trade production of their goods.

“It’s disheartening to think that our holiday celebrations come at the expense of the labor of children and others who are working for less than a living wage,” said Ahlgren. “After the factory workers visited Xavier many committed themselves to purchasing holiday gifts that give us a direct and equitable relationship with the producers.”

This event is sponsored by Caminantes, the Fair Trade Club and the Alternative Spring Break Club.