Like an eager child on Christmas morning, Rev. Sharon Jones sliced through the tape that sealed a large brown box yesterday and began to unwrap the items inside.
Two palm accent baskets from Bangladesh. Onyx candle holders from Pakistan. A Tree of Life trivet from the West Bank. Several kinds of chocolate.
Rev. Jones, pastor of the United Methodist Church, and a group of congregants are planning a holiday fair at the church this coming Sunday with a twist. It’s a fair trade fair with items from around the world.
They’ll also sell gift certificates to about a dozen local businesses.
“Shop local. Think global,” is the thinking, according to Eileen Dougherty, who runs the International Learning Center of the North Suburban YMCA at the church. “If you can’t buy local, buy fair-trade.”
No item at the fair is priced over $50, Rev. Jones said; many items are under $20.
The idea for the fair grew from a congregant’s suggestion about a month ago, Rev. Jones said, to sell gift certificates for local businesses for the holidays.
Instead of buying “tchotchkes” that are made abroad, the gift certificates support local businesses and the local economy, she said.
The local business people that church volunteer secretary Robin Brown approached for gift certificates were “thrilled” with the idea, Brown said. The church will give 90 percent of the face value of the certificates to the merchants—many restaurants and salons. They’ll keep 10 percent, Pastor Jones said, to help defray fair costs.
The idea grew.
Rev. Jones is involved with a fair trade cooperative and crafters in Nicaragua, she told Woburn Patch. The Methodist Church here and the Church of Christ there have been sister churches for about 15 years, she said. Through the cooperative, native women learn to sew so they can work in factories in their country, she said. The women earn between 50 cents and $1 an hour. But it costs $2.50 an hour, she said, to feed and shelter their families.
The box the pastor opened yesterday came from another organization, SERRV Our World, whose goal is to “eradicate poverty wherever it resides.” Six members of the church ordered merchandise that, Rev. Jones said, they would buy.
“Our hope” for the fair, Rev. Jones said, “is that it will grow,” with the addition of local crafters. Yes, it's short notice, but crafters interested in participating in the church's first alternative and fair trade fair should call the church at 781-933-6824 by this coming Friday at noon.