Advent Market offers responsible gift-giving options

Justice Coalition hosted 12 non-profits at the Advent Market last Friday in Lower Beamer. The non-profits sold handmade items from Africa, South Asia, Chicago and more.
On Friday, Dec. 5, Justice Coalition  put on its fifth annual Advent Market. The Advent Market is an opportunity for students to purchase gifts from non-profit organizations and ministries concerned with justice, both locally and globally. In the Phelps Room and the Fireside Room, 12 organizations sold merchandise appropriate for the gift-giving season and shared their missions with customers. The event in Lower Beamer also featured live music performed by Wheaton students, a cookie creation table and a photo corner.
According to student organizations associate Nicole Rienstra, “Five years ago, there was a group of students who wanted to financially support non-profit ministries they were involved with without undermining Wheaton College’s policy against directly funding non-profit organizations. … This way students, faculty and staff can fund an organization they want to support.”
Re:New, a local organization that JustCo supported through the proceeds from its 5K run last May, has sold at the Advent Market all five years. Re:New helps refugee women in DuPage county by being a medium for selling their products. A variety of purses, scarves and other practical feminine accessories made by women were offered at Re:New’s table this year.
Re:New’s mission is not just for the refugees they support. Re:New firmly believes in the power behind responsible consumerism and the positive effects it can have on both ends of a trade. Jenny Chang, marketing director of Re:New, said, “We hope that students will take away that they have buying power and that they can choose to buy gifts that both provide someone joy and help someone else in need on the other end.”
JustCo envisions the same goal for Wheaton students. Junior David Choi, development manager of Justice Coalition, took on the role of sound technician and DJ for this year’s Advent Market. He said, “We want students to know that there is an ethical way to go about consumerism, learn to appreciate the stories of the people who have made these products, and to know that they are helping to change lives.”
Among the various non-profits, Ten Thousand Villages (TTV) had its first appearance at Wheaton’s Advent Market. TTV works with people in need on a global scale. At the Advent Market, TTV vended a variety of gift items — namely organic beverages and snacks, Christmas ornaments, jewelry, clothing and household decorations — from 38 countries. TTV only sells confirmed “fair trade” items, or in other words, products free of child labor, sweat shops and other unjust forms of labor.
Sharon Coolidge, chair of the English department and board chair of TTV, has hosted large TTV sales in her house around the holidays for the last 27 years. Since she was unable to do so this year, Justice Coalition invited Coolidge to bring TTV to the Advent Market.
“TTV seeks to identify groups of people who have been marginalized in some way, from those who have been through sex trafficking to those who have been through a typhoon,” Coolidge said.  “We then identify a craft these people can make that reflects their culture. With their trade they can support a life of dignity and respect.”
On the local end of the spectrum was Little Black Pearl Art and Design Academy (LBP), a college prep high school specializing in art that reaches out to children in less affluent Chicago communities. A group of students was selling glass paperweights, ornaments and other glass artwork they made in a glass blowing workshop. Rozzie Cribbs, a junior from LBP, said, “We are raising money for our school so that we can open up more opportunities and expand our various workshops.”
Students such as first-year graduate student Drew Boa ’14 appreciated the multiple benefits of Advent Market. Boa said, “The thing about Advent Market is that it is such a great and convenient way to find gifts. Every year I find very cool things for my family, and they are always very appreciative that I went out of my way to find something awesome that in turn supports those in need. I guess Phelps isn’t really out of the way, but that is why we should take advantage of it.”

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