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Badin Hall to host Conscious Christmas handicrafts sale

| Friday, December 2, 2016

As the Christmas season arrives on campus, so comes Conscious Christmas — a Badin Hall signature event and annual fair trade sale to support Badin Hall’s charity, the HOPE Initiative. The eighth annual Conscious Christmas sale will take place Friday from noon to 6 p.m. in Badin Hall., and will feature handcrafted items from Nepalese artisans and Notre Dame art and design students.

Sophomore Kathleen Ryan, the head commissioner for Badin’s HOPE commission, said she appreciates the opportunity to get the rest of the Notre Dame community involved with the HOPE Initiative, a volunteer organization devoted to improving the education of the poorest children in rural Nepal.

“I was really drawn to the idea of using our dorm community for the benefit of people in the greater international community,” Ryan said in an email. “I think the HOPE Initiative is an amazing organization, and it’s really special to work closely with Ann-Marie Conrado, who is the founder of HOPE, as well as our hall fellow.”

Conrado, an assistant professor of industrial design, said she loves to see Badin Hall have such a large hand in supporting her and her husband’s charity.

“It’s a small organization,” she said. “So that also allows Badin to play a large role in the work that it does and to be really connected to it at the grassroots level. … I’m proud to say that Badin is the number one donor, by far.”

In addition to the residents of Badin Hall who are in charge of organizing, publicizing and working at Conscious Christmas, Conrado said some Notre Dame art students also participate by designing items to sell at the event.

“I actually bring art and design students to Nepal every summer for ten weeks,” she said. “They actually design handicrafts. … A portion of our products that are on sale are actually designed by Notre Dame students.”

One student who will have several items of work featured in the Conscious Christmas sale is painting graduate student Laura Lemna, who traveled to Nepal with Conrado last summer to work as an intern with artists at the Association for Craft Producers.

“It’s different from a lot of the other work that I make,” Lemna said. “I’m a painter, so I’m used to making singular objects. So making designs that are mass-produced is pretty exciting and something that I’ve never done before. Knowing and caring about the people at that company, it’s really cool to know that they enjoy what we made together and that it’s finding some success for them.”

Ryan said these original designs by students and artists in Nepal only add to the success of the event.

“What’s special about Conscious Christmas is these items aren’t your typical Christmas gifts,” she said. “So the excitement of finding that perfect present for someone is even more unique.”

Not only does Conscious Christmas serve as an opportunity for community members to shop for Christmas gifts, but it also exposes students to fair trade, Conrado said.

“What Badin does is opens up fair trade, consciously and ethically sourced products to the Notre Dame community and gives them a venue to shop in a way that does double the duty,” she said. “Because one, it’s purchased fair trade or from small cooperatives … but then all proceeds go back to charitable efforts there. So it’s like you’re doing double the difference. There’s not a profit motive there.”

Ryan said she and the other commissioners for the event are hoping to break the record of more than $11,000 raised at last year’s event.

“We’ve topped the amount made the previous year every [year] since Conscious Christmas started, and I wouldn’t want to stop that trend now,” she said.

More important than the dollar amount to Conrado, however, is witnessing the passion Badin Hall residents have for the event.

“I am thrilled with how the women of Badin take this on and come to learn so much about fair trade, come to learn about ethical sourcing and come to understand that they can make an impact,” she said. “Every generation that’s involved with this — from the ones who will sign up just on the day to man it … to the ones who just keep continually running credit cards all day long — they’re giving of themselves for a greater cause.”

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About Courtney Becker

Courtney is a senior from New York City majoring in film, television and theater with a minor in journalism, who recently wrapped up her year as Editor-in-Chief. She is a former resident of Pasquerilla West Hall and a die-hard Pittsburgh Steelers fan.

Contact Courtney