For the members of First Christian Reformed Church in Denver, Colo., Christmas shopping comes with an international twist. Every year at its Global Bazaar, vendors offer products made by people in economically challenging circumstances whose communities, domestic and international, receive profit from the sales.
The first Global Bazaar in 2008 hosted 15 vendors and saw sales of about $4,600. Then the Bazaar grew, and sales have ranged between $15,000 and $16,000 since 2010, with 30-35 vendors each year.
Shirley Van Heukelem, the Global Bazaar coordinator at First CRC, said, “It's a good way to mingle with people from our community, to support local and global fair trade (businesses), and to purchase one-of-a-kind gifts.”
Thirty church members volunteer to run the event every year, welcoming a few hundred shoppers from First CRC and the Denver community. For the 2019 event, held last Saturday, the church also supported mission partner En-Gedi Children's Home in Kenya, with the sale of baked goods.
For Phil Schilling, a vendor with A-Mark On The World who has participated in the Global Bazaar almost from the start, the best moments are sharing the stories of the people whose lives are affected by the profit reinvestment.
“Church alternative craft fairs, like Global Bazaar, reach out to the community and invite them to the event,” he said. “This gives faith-based missions and fair trade cooperatives not only an opportunity to showcase their handicrafts, but more importantly an opportunity to share the life-changing work they are experiencing.”