Christmas Gifts with a conscience
By Julie Filby
From beer to Bibles, chocolate to chant music, as Christmas draws near consider giving gifts that give back to others. The following organizations sell items that support people-in-need, as well as religious communities, with proceeds from their sales. Look for their products at religious book stores, parish gift shops and online.
EarthLinks is a local nonprofit that provides a work program for people who are homeless and low-income to learn skills and create earth-friendly products. It was founded in 1996 by Sister of Loretto Catherine Mueller and Dominican Sister of Hope Bette Ann Jaster, who is still on the board of directors. Products for sale that support their community include beeswax soap, bird houses, bookmarks, note cards and votive holders. Items are made from recycled materials when available.
Shop: 2828 Larimer St. in Denver; 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday-Friday
Upcoming sale: Dec. 17-18, Living Gift Market at St. John’s Episcopal Cathedral, 1350 Washington St. in Denver. Call 303-831-7115 for hours.
Mystic Monk Coffee
Mystic Monk Coffee is a small batch coffee roaster operated by Carmelite monks living in a solitary monastery in the Rocky Mountains near Cody, Wyo. They roast and blend coffee—and produce other gift items such as teas, mugs and chocolates—to support the monastery. Many consider their website the ultimate source for gourmet coffee.
Seignadou (Sign of God) Soap
The Dominican Nuns of Summit, N.J., are a cloistered community residing at Monastery of Our Lady of the Rosary. The nuns handcraft a line of soaps in a variety of fragrances, from light florals to deep musks, containing glycerin, shea butter and goat’s milk.
Monastery Greetings was founded to support religious communities in the United States and Canada that sell products to the public but often don’t have the resources to reach a wide audience. They provide a printed catalog and website offering more than 1,500 products exclusively from monasteries, convents, abbeys and hermitages; including award-winning Trappist Preserves and flower note cards from St. Benedict Monastery in Snowmass.
SERRV’s mission is to eradicate poverty by marketing the sale of crafts and foods of low-income artisans and farmers worldwide through sources including a printed catalog and website. SERRV is a founding member of the World Fair Trade Organization and the Fair Trade Federation. Items for sale include home and kitchen décor, baskets, jewelry, scarves, chocolates and gourmet coffee. SERRV has grown to a $9.5 million fair trade network connecting thousands of artisans in developing countries with customers in the U.S. They partner with a number of agencies including Catholic Relief Services.
Catholic Relief Services
Catholic Relief Services is the official international humanitarian agency of the Catholic Church. It provides assistance to people-in-need around the globe regardless of race, religion or nationality. Through their online gift catalog one can buy a share in a selected project, such as helping young people work for peace in the Holy Land or improving the water supply in Ethiopia.
Trading for Treasures
This mission of Trading for Treasures is to empower women of Rwanda—many widowed by the genocide of 1994—with skills that will enable them to lift themselves and their families out of poverty. The organization returns 100 percent of profits earned from Rwandan handicrafts, including baskets, textiles and jewelry, to projects benefiting the people of Rwanda.
Available at: Compleat Gourmet & Gifts
Location: 7592 S. University Blvd. in Centennial; 303-290-9222