Students organize fair-trade sale to help world's working poor

November 06, 2008

Through volunteering their time at a fair-trade warehouse and organizing a sale of handcrafted goods on Nov. 20-21, students pursuing bachelor's degrees in applied human services at Pennsylvania College of Technology will try to help working poor around the world.

The students have organized a Ten Thousand Villages Festival Sale, which will include such handmade goods as jewelry, ornaments and home decor from around the world. The event is scheduled for 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 20, and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday, Nov. 21, in the Bush Campus Center lobby. The event is open to the public.

Ten Thousand Villages -- one of the world's oldest fair-trade organizations -- works with more than 100 artisan groups in more than 30 countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Fair trade enables the artisans to earn a fair wage and provides the opportunity for a better quality of life.

The students are enrolled in the course "Community and Organizational Change," which helps them develop the skills to recognize existing and emergent human needs and plan successful community and organizational responses to those needs.

The students said artisans who are represented by Ten Thousand Villages get by on very little -- often $30 to $40 a month.

"This gives us a unique opportunity to make a real-life difference for other people in the world," said Maranda L. Kromer of Williamsport, one of 15 students enrolled in the course.

In addition to hosting the sale, the class spent a day volunteering in a Ten Thousand Villages warehouse and visiting one of the organization's stores in Lancaster County. The company's warehouses and stores are staffed mainly by volunteers, so that more proceeds can be returned to the crafters.

Larue R. Reese, an assistant professor of human services/sociology who teaches the course, estimated the organization would have had to pay $1,000 for the work hours the class members gave to the warehouse. "A thousand dollars does a lot for them," Reese said.

Live music will be played during the sale by Valerie A. LaCerra of Linden, a member of Key of V and a student in the "Community and Organizational Change" course. She will play from noon to 2 p.m. Thursday and from 3 to 5 p.m. Friday. There will be a drawing for door prizes both days of the festival sale.

Items to be sold will be displayed through Nov. 19 in the Madigan Library.

For information about human services majors and other academic programs offered by the School of Integrated Studies at Penn College, visit online or call (570) 327-4521.

For information about Penn College, visit online, send e-mail or call toll-free (800) 367-9222.

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Last Updated March 19, 2009