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Saint Mary’s organizations host Fair Trade Holiday Fair

| Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Ethical purchasing is at the center of a new initiative at Saint Mary’s. Sponsored by the Office for Civic and Social Engagement (OCSE), the Catholic Relief Services (CRS) Ambassador team and the department of justice studies, the Fair Trade Holiday Fair takes place this week in the atrium of the Student Center.

Rebekah DeLine, director of the OCSE, said the fair is occurring in order to “raise awareness that consumption, which we all participate in as individuals, can be done in ways that are conscientious,” as well as, “to promote some of our local organizations that promote fair trade.”

The idea that became the Fair Trade Holiday Fair began at a charity event, DeLine said.

“I got to talking with the manager of Ten Thousand Villages, and she said she would love to bring the store to campus,” she said. “I said, ‘I can help make that happen.’”

Ten Thousand Villages is a national nonprofit fair trade organization with a location in Mishawaka. DeLine said the event was originally planned to just include Ten Thousand Villages, but it grew into a larger affair with the help of the CRS Ambassador program on campus.

“One of the things [CRS] focuses on is ethical consumption,” DeLine said. “We built the fair around both the CRS desire to promote the idea of ethical trade and conscientious consumption and the fact that Ten Thousand Villages was coming.”

According to first-year CRS Ambassador Clare Souder, Saint Mary’s is trying to become a certified fair trade campus.

“There are multiple steps before we are officially fair trade, but at this point, we’re still on the ground trying to assemble a team and figure out what steps we need to take in order to get to our fair trade campaign resolution,” she said.

In addition to vendors, the CRS Ambassador team has a table at the fair with informational resources about the fair trade movement.

“A big theme with fair trade is ‘Think global. Buy local,’ which shows how supporting the small local businesses helps the greater good when looking at the environment and the people working,” junior CRS Ambassador Sydney McAllister said in an email.

This theme was of great importance in the planning of the event, DeLine said.

“The CRS Ambassadors really helped in terms of identifying vendors to bring,” she said. “The Local Cup organized their entire involvement, but a student leader organized the shifts and supplies.”

DeLine said four students who serve their federal work-study at the organizations of The Local Cup and Unity Gardens have been instrumental in the fair.

“They have been helping staff the tables so we’re not pulling the staff away from those organizations to be here all day,” she said.

Other organizations participating in the Fair Trade Holiday Fair in addition to Ten Thousand Villages include Aahaa Chai and J’Monet Customs. With the exception of Ten Thousand Villages, which is a national organization, all of these are local and regional.

“By shopping at and supporting these businesses, students and community members gain a sense of awareness and comfort that the goods they are buying have not only been ethically sourced, but the hands and the people that were involved in the process of making these goods have received fair wages and are not forced into making them,” McAllister said.

The Fair Trade Holiday Fair opened Tuesday and continues Wednesday from 11 a.m. until 7 p.m.

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