Buying fair trade Christmas gifts ‘helps others’


By Anne Marie Amacher
The Catholic Messenger

DAVENPORT — Products that are made “by our brothers and sisters in impoverished nations” are available through Catholic Relief Service’s fair trade program.
Julie Davenport, a volunteer in the Diocese of Davenport’s Social Action Office and contact for fair trade resources, said CRS has higher ethical standards in fair trade than other places that sell fair trade items.

Anne Marie Amacher
Julie Davenport displays some Catholic Relief Services fair trade Christmas items. The Social Action Office of the Davenport Diocese has a variety of options for parishes interested in fair trade items.

Fair trade items such as coffee, chocolate, crafts and jewelry are handmade by people in financially struggling countries. With fair trade, she said, the workers make more money rather than large corporations that mass produce items for low labor costs.

“The products speak for themselves,” she said. Although many people assume the cost of fair trade items is more expensive, she said that’s not always true. Many items on display in the Social Action


Office cost $15 or less. “You can see the detail in each product and the time involved in making those items,” Davenport said.

Social Action Director Kent Ferris said he and his staff and volunteers are available to talk to parishes and deaneries about fair trade. “It’s been something that some parishes have been doing for a long time.”

The Social Action Office has a kit with examples of fair trade items and information to take on the road.

“We are very flexible,” Davenport said. “We can help bring the ministry to your parish. Some parishes serve fair trade coffee after Masses when they serve coffee and donuts. Others sell coffee and chocolate.”

Parishes have different options for selling fair trade items. Catalog sales or visits to the CRS fair trade website are two examples. Parishes can host a sale where they pick various items on consignment and display the items for sale. This is a good idea for a parish bazaar, she noted.

Another idea for promoting fair trade is to put money into the parish budget to use fair trade coffee at parish events and promote it. “Take a step back from your local vendor and put out (fair trade coffee) for a meaningful ministry and help bring people out of poverty.”

Free shipping on orders of $300 or more is available.

If a parish orders items that do no sell, CRS is great at taking back items, Davenport said. A portion of the fair trade sales remains at the parish. Proceeds from the sale of items the Social Action Office has purchased will go toward the local CRS fund.

As Christmas approaches, Davenport encourages people to hold back on impulse purchases and spend money on gifts that make a difference. “By buying some fair trade, you are helping others.”

For information on fair trade sales in your parish or for catalog sales, contact Davenport at (563) 888-4376 or email

The CRS Fair Trade website is

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