Buy a gift, change a life

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Just about everyone likes to receive a special gift.

With WorldCrafts, the Fair Trade division of the Woman’s Missionary Union, giving a special gift can feel as good as getting one.

“Our goal is to develop sustainable, Fair Trade businesses among impoverished people across the world,” said Emily Swader, the Marketing Strategist for WorldCrafts. ”Through purchasing WorldCrafts products, you can really change the life of someone.”

The organization started in 1996 with only one artisan group from Bangkla, Thailand. Today, WorldCrafts works with more than 60 artisan groups in 30 countries – offering dignity and eternal hope to each individual in every group.

“Everything we have is handmade,” Swader said. Each product also comes with a card with the maker’s picture and story on it.

But in a world that seems to be Fair Trade-crazed, what exactly makes WorldCrafts different?

“What sets WorldCrafts apart is that we are not only interested in people having that sustainable living income, we’re interested in them having eternal hope,” Swader said.

And because the WMU’s national headquarters are located here in Birmingham down Highway 280, local shoppers don’t even have to leave the city limits to change the life of a person thousands of miles away.

Mary Holland Novkov received a set of wooden coasters from WorldCrafts as a hostess gift from an in-town friend.

“They are a really great conversation starter,” Novkov said. “Every time people come over they ask about them and I get to explain their story.”

With several product categories including home décor, stationary and women’s accessories, similar stories from all over the world are waiting to be told.

The most popular items from WorldCrafts include nativities from around the world, ethnic jewelry and scarves made out of recycled sari’s from India.

From left to right, popular WorldCrafts products include a nativity scene (Jerusalem — Bethlehem Carvers, $39.99), a stationary set (India — Ergon Handicrafts, $14.99) and a scarf (India — Village Artisans, $34.99).

WorldCrafts products are mainly available for purchase online, through catalogue or locally at the gift shop located at the WMU’s national headquarters.

Individuals and churches are also encouraged to host WorldCrafts parties where guests can pick up catalogues of items available for purchase and learn more about WorldCrafts’ mission. Free party ideas and themes can be found on the WorldCrafts website.

“Thousands of parties are hosted every year,” Swader said.

For more information about hosting a WorldCrafts party or about how to purchase WorldCrafts merchandise, visit http://worldcrafts.org/.

By Sarah Anne Elliott
Photos courtesy of WorldCrafts