Left Justified: Happy Interfaith Turkey Day, and have fun shopping fair trade

By Stanley Campbell

What do we have to be thankful for? The economy is still in the toilet; the war in Afghanistan is getting worse; and our president seems to be oblivious to the pain and suffering. Global warming is getting warmer, and the electric grid is falling apart. But let’s be thankful for some things:

People are giving more to charitable organizations, even while bringing home less in paychecks. The CROP Hunger Walk raised more than $40,000 this last October (way to go, Dave, Bob and the other organizers), which will be shared with overseas relief programs and local food pantries. You may still donate with a check by calling the Rev. David Jones, 815-540-3703.

Rockford, for me, is still the best place to live, and I am so thankful that Frank and this newspaper still publishes my column.

If you’d like to give thanks, the Mayor’s Interfaith Thanksgiving service is this Sunday, Nov. 21, 3 p.m., at Rockford College’s Fisher Chapel. It’s always great to see everyone from different religions praying on the same stage.

And after Thanksgiving dinner, participate in the real religion of America: shopping!

Americans have more power than we realize. We voted for our leaders on Election Day, and we can vote for our ideals in the marketplace. What we buy determines how the rest of the world lives. It’s difficult to discover if the gift you are about to buy for Aunt Ethel was really made in a sweatshop or prison labor camp. You don’t want to buy a present for which someone died in the making. With all this free trade going on, there aren’t many restrictions to ensure products are fairly traded.

Fair trade means the items came from a cooperative workplace where the people received at least a decent wage to live, the environment is not harmed, and the working conditions don’t kill anyone.

Look for fair groups like SERRV and “10,000 Villages,” who sell beautiful items. Church bazaars and rummage sales help raise funds for worthwhile projects and have great prices.

My favorite, JustGoods Fair Trade Store, at 201 Seventh St., (open Tuesdays-Saturdays, 10 a.m.-6 p.m., for your holiday shopping pleasure) is nonprofit and sells fairly-traded gifts—the best of both worlds.

I am so thankful you are reading this, and that you share some hope for a better Rockford, and a better world.

Stanley Campbell is executive director of Rockford Urban Ministries and spokesman for Rockford Peace & Justice.

From the Nov. 17-23, 2010 issue

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