October 28, 2021

County sale aids artisans from developing nations

PRESQUE ISLE – When Kim-Anne Perkins buys hand-crafted items from other countries, she wants to know that the artisans who make the products are getting paid a fair price for their work.

That’s the main reason why the local resident has organized for the past several years the “A Greater Gift” sale at the United Church of Christ in Presque Isle.

The sale, held on Saturday in the church’s basement, simultaneously provided area residents with the opportunity to purchase a wide range of crafts – from places as far away as Argentina and the Philippines – while offering the products at a fair trade price.

Fair trade is a concept that involves greater equity in the buying and selling of international products by offering better trading conditions to marginalized producers and workers, such as craftsmen and women and small-scale growers, and ensuring those workers are not exploited.

Perkins explained on Saturday that she comes into the equation by purchasing, on behalf of the church, a quantity of fair trade products to sell to the local community. Perkins bought baskets from Bangladesh, rain sticks from Chile, jewelry from Kenya and toys from Sri Lanka, all through an organization called A Greater Gift.

A Greater Gift is a program of SERRV International, a nonprofit alternative trade and development organization. SERRV International was one of the first alternative trade organizations in the world and a founding member of the International Fair Trade Association. According to the organization’s Web site, SERRV promotes the social and economic progress of people in developing regions of the world by marketing their products in a “just and direct manner.”

Perkins said that SERRV has one of the highest percentage return rates of any nonprofit alternative trade organization, which is a boon to crafters in developing countries. The incentive for the church to hold the sale, Perkins said, is that it gets to keep 10 percent of the sales to use for mission work if it sells at least 60 percent of the products ordered.

In the end, sale organizers said, everyone benefits: Local residents get quality products from foreign countries, the church gets to do good works twice through one act, and international artisans get paid fairly for their work.

But according to Robin Jenkins, who helped Perkins organize the sale, there’s one more benefit.

“We don’t live in an isolated world,” she said on Saturday. “A sale like this can help to expand our own consciousness and understand what’s really going on around us.”

For more information about A Greater Gift, or to place an order, visit the organization’s web site at www.agreatergift.org.

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