Give more this Christmas.
When we started selling fairtrade goods in 2009, we had no way of knowing that it would lead us on the journey we have taken.
We were given the idea of creating bags from Billboards. Large outdoor advertising companies generally either throw away, or sometimes recycle the billboards they take down from the side of highways. We were given a contact in Atlanta for one of these companies who gladly agreed to let us take the old billboards off his hands. We had a shed full of billboards before we knew for sure what we were going to do with them.
We were becoming increasingly aware of refugees in our neighborhood and neighboring communities who were without work, and struggling to make ends meet. Without knowing the language, customs, or being familiar with city life, they were left to fend for themselves. When refugees come to the US, they are given help for the first 90 days of life in the states. In those 90 days they are expected to find a job, learn the language, learn their way around their new city, and build community.
And then they receive no more assistance. Without financial help or emotional support, newcomers have a hard time ever learning to feel at home here.
We started a small shop to employ refugees to create bags made out of the billboards that were being discarded. Before any of the details had been solidified, we were approached by a conference asking if they could purchase 5000 bags. We did not even own a sewing machine, and we already had billboards, people to do the work, and orders to fill. We knew we had to begin.
So far, our team has created thousands of bags, we are constantly are creating new products, and are learning new skills in the process. Presently, we are creating bags for retail stores, our own online store, conferences, churches, and organizations all over the world who are hoping to make a difference with their purchases.
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