Global Gifts, a Fair Trade store supported by several Christian Reformed churches in Grand Rapids, Mich., is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year and recently re-opened at a new location.
Scarves, jewelry, and chocolates come from over 30 different countries around the world. Sale of these products offer hope to many people. Blessing Baskets, for example, helps Ghanian a women achieve financial independence to leave abusive families. Palomas Oilcloths, brightly colored linens from Mexico, help women who are often their families’ sole provider, make money for food and living expenses.
Originally started by Calvin CRC’s community care and social justice committee, the store was one of the first of its kind. Three women began the store as a means to combat the world hunger crisis.
The store has also always operated under the concept of Fair Trade. “The term Fair Trade certifies that the people who produced a particular item were fairly compensated and humanely treated. Of the 1.2 billion people worldwide living in abject poverty, 70 percent are women. Fair Trade guarantees women a fair wage––enough for food, medical care, and education for their children,” explained store manager Jessica Riley.
“When we placed our most recent order over the phone [to Palomas Oilcoths],” Riley said, “we could hear children and street noise in the background. We realized we were speaking to her at her home. She told us that the women will be very happy to have another chance to work.”
Riley said there are about 40 volunteers who cover two shifts per day, six days a week. Some volunteers work every week while some volunteer only during the Christmas season.
Other churches involved with Global Gifts include Eastern Avenue CRC, Seymour CRC, Church of the Servant CRC, and more.
The store’s re-opening allows them to reach more people while telling the story of others around the world.
About the Author
Kristin Schmitt is a freelance news correspondent for The Banner. She lives in Hudsonville, Michigan.