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What do teens want for Christmas?

BHS Financial Literacy classes visit local non-profit shop

When it comes to Christmas presents, it may seem like kids these days are only interested in electronics. Not so with the students in Michaeline Lovell’s financial literacy classes at Bluffton High School, who picked out some hypothetical gifts for themselves on a field trip to Ten Thousand Villages store, on Main Street, Bluffton. These high school seniors enjoyed selecting coffee, tea, chocolate, jewelry and other gifts that are considered Fair Trade. 

Although Ten Thousand Villages looks like a regular gift shop, it is a non-profit with a mission: to eradicate poverty and preserve the environment. Fair Trade is a movement that changes the way international trade works through better payment, decent working conditions, ecological preservation and a fairer deal for farmers and workers in developing countries. Believe it or not, the first Fair Trade store in the United States was created right here in Bluffton fifty years ago. 

Led by businesswoman Lois Kreider, members of Bluffton First Mennonite opened the first Fair Trade storefront in the country in 1974, and called it Self Help Crafts. They began a thrift store called Et Cetera to raise money to buy the inventory: handmade items from people in need. It was renamed Ten Thousand Villages in 1996 and now sells products from 30 countries worldwide, empowering workers to raise their standard of living, feed their families and pursue an education. 

“I want to show the students that they can make thoughtful choices about how they spend money,” said Lovell. Store Manager Wendy Chappell-Dick was paying attention. She curated a display that shows off Ten Thousand Villages products that have been “teenager approved” so that those buying for young people in their lives can receive guidance from the experts–other teens. 

Gage VanAtta with Chocolate Covered Espresso Beans

Maddy Murray with a chocolate bar from Equal Exchange.

Avery Kinn holds a Compass Journal handcrafted from buffalo leather and handmade paper.

Jasmine Hasting chose Conscious Step Socks.

Jack Coleman displays Purple Chocolate Tea from JusTea.

Lily Deitering with the Open Diamond Brass Ring from Cambodia.

In 2024 Et Cetera, Inc.--a nonprofit comprised of the Et Cetera Shop, Ten Thousand Villages and Book Reviews--will celebrate 50 years in Bluffton with events throughout the year.