Linda Swager, left, and Gigi Laursen show off some of the fair trade items Park Place Wesleyan Church receives from Trade As One, a monthly subscription program. Fair trade items similar to the ones displayed will be for sale at an Aug. 23 market at the church.
PINELLAS PARK – To raise awareness of human trafficking, poverty, oppression and other social injustices around the world, Park Place Wesleyan Church, 4400 70th Ave. N. presents The Marketplace: A Fair Trade Experience on Saturday, Aug. 23, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
This international bazaar will feature fair trade products from all over the globe – soaps, coffee, food, jewelry, clothing and more. There’s something for everyone, said Linda Swager, the church’s Women’s Ministry leader, and items start at prices as low as $2.50.
“We don’t want anyone to be scared away because it’s too expensive,” she said. “But there are a lot of interesting products for sale.”
This event is sponsored by the church’s Women’s Ministry, who discovered the North Carolina-based nonprofit The Marketplace at a women’s leadership conference promoting ethical companies last year. The Christian company partners with faith-based organizations to empower impoverished people around the globe with sustainable solutions.
The Marketplace creates opportunities for these economically and socially marginalized individuals to sell their products at events like the one Park Place Wesleyan is hosting.
The money made from these events is used to spur economic development in other countries and to provide the artisans and small business owners whose work is sold at them with further training. At the same time, these groups spread their faith in these countries, Swager said.
“The organization goes in with a mission,” she said.
But it goes beyond religion, said Gigi Laursen, the event’s director.
“It’s not about religion. It’s about humanity,” she said. “It’s about treating all humans with humanity.”
She added, “We really want people to become aware of social injustices going on in the world. We can help, even if it’s in a small way by supporting those making a difference.”
Laursen is especially interested in promoting awareness of human trafficking, which is an issue right here in Florida, she said, particularly along the I-4 corridor. Supporting small fair trade businesses is an easy way to help individuals who might otherwise fall prey to human trafficking due to poverty.
“It’s a great way to rescue people from poverty,” she said.
Swager added, “This is one of the ways developed countries can help. It’s a really worthwhile effort and can help prevent future trafficking.”
The goal is for this to become an annual event at Park Place Wesleyan, Swager said.