Students will be given the opportunity Friday to do some guilt-free shopping for Christmas presents — or themselves — thanks to the annual Fair Trade Sale.

Gannon University’s Catholic Relief Service ambassadors are hosting the sale at the Waldron Campus Center as part of their goal to increase fair trade products available on campus.

Sara Nesbitt, the program coordinator for the Center for Social Concerns, noted that fair trade gives the farmers and artisans behind the project some security.

“Fair trade is a process by which the individual who makes or grows the product receives a fair  living wage — relative to their country — for their work,” Nesbitt said.  “It also benefits their family; children whose parents are involved in fair trade cooperatives are healthier and receive more education than children whose parents are not.

“Finally, it benefits the person who buys the gift and receives the gift — they are not only beautiful items but make the giver and receiver feel good that their gift makes a difference.”

Serrv International, the company that supplies the fair trade items, also agrees that the process primarily benefits workers.

The company’s website says each tablecloth, basket and handicraft has a face behind it. They allow artists to work in a safe place while saving for their future and even the future of their children.  Serrv calls its business a partnership with the artists and farmers it supports, which focuses on mutual trust and respect between both parties.

Serrv International partners with people in Asia, Africa, Latin America, the Middle East and here in the United States. The CRS ambassadors will be selling products like children’s toys, scarves, earrings, baskets and different Christmas decorations made by artists in these countries. Prices range from $7.50-$25. Nesbitt said there is something for everyone in every price range.

The Fair Trade Sale started as a fundraiser for Alternative Break Service Trips and then evolved as an event run by the Center for Social Concerns and the CRS ambassadors. This is the first year they have taken over the sale.

The group also introduced other fair trade items available on a regular basis like coffee, cocoa, nuts, chocolate bars, mango and Alta Gracia-brand fair trade products in the bookstore.  As part of the sale, fair trade coffee will also be for sale. Students are invited to sample the coffee before purchase, which Metz recently started offering for sale on campus. The coffee is the only product that is not being sold through Serrv International.

Leah Johnson, a sophomore social work major, said the sale presents a platform for fair trade to the university.

“Too many people have never heard of fair trade, or don’t have a clear understanding of what it is,” Johnson said.  “I think it raises awareness about what fair trade is and the people that it impacts.”

The sale will take place in the Yehl Ballroom from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Cash, checks and GU gold will be accepted.

This article by Kelsey Ghering originally appeared in The Gannon Knight on Dec. 3, 2014.