Hampton church's shopping event spans globe

Deborah Deasy
| Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Shopping around the world for holiday gifts — while supporting charitable causes — is easy at St. Paul's United Methodist Church in Hampton.

The church's fifth annual Mission Mall, set for Nov. 23, will offer about 35 tables of novel, hand-crafted presents, such as a painted, wooden flute from Bolivia for $22, an $18 birdhouse made of tree branches from the Philippines and an $11 straw basket from Vietnam.

“It's a great event,” said Mary Sheehan of The Olive Branch at Salem United Methodist Church in Pine, a shop that sells artisan-made goods from untold countries to help promote global fair trade.

The Olive Branch will offer mother-of-pearl necklaces from the West Bank, wooden puzzle boxes from India and tabletop crèches from Peru, among other goods, at the Mission Mall.

Kate Neville of Ross, a former PNC Bank administrative assistant, started and still organizes the Mission Mall.

Neville constantly combs Pittsburgh area publications for blurbs about nonprofits with goods to sell, such as the Olive Branch. “It's fun when you find a new one,” she said.

The Shepherd's Door in Bellevue is among first-time vendors slated to sell items at the 2013 Mission Mall. The shop offers jewelry, handbags, decorative items and faith gifts, such as rosaries and cross necklaces, all priced less than $50.

Like The Olive Branch, the Shepherd's Door offers goods from foreign lands through a number of fair trade suppliers, such as SERRV of Madison, Wis.; Handmade Expressions of Austin, Texas; and Global Crafts of Edgewater, Fla., according to Shepherd's Door volunteer Peggy Hartman, who order's the shop's inventory.

Other nonprofit organizations booked to offer items at the Mission Mall are: Ten Thousand Villages, BeadforLife, Ugandan Gold Coffee, Anchorpoint Counseling Ministry, Hope Ministries International, African Team Ministries, Nyadire Mission, Honduras Hope Mission, Building New Hope, Freedom Firm, Pal Craftaid, Garden of Etna, Gwen's Girls and Greybrooke Garden Club.

“We don't charge them anything. We don't ask for a percentage (of sales),” said Neville, a member of the mission committee at St. Paul's United Methodist Church. “We do this because it's a good thing to do. We provide the space.”

Pal Craftaid, a ministry that aids Palestinians, will offer olive-wood figurines and candlesticks at the Mission Mall.

“The Garden of Etna is going to sell lavender wreaths made with lavender they harvested from their own gardens,” Neville said.

Freedom Firm, which works to end child prostitution in India, will offer jewelry made by rescued girls.

Greybrooke Garden Club, which raises funds for North Hills Community Outreach and other area organizations, will offer flower bulbs and birdseed.

While offering goods for sale, participating organizations will get a chance to acquaint shoppers with their charitable missions.

“Some people just get out their checkbooks and write a check, even if they don't buy anything,” said Neville. “They just want to make a donation.”

Some vendors will accept credit cards at the Mission Mall, but Neville recommends bringing cash or a checkbook for merchandise purchases.

Lunch will be available at the Mission Mall, along with a fundraising holiday cookie walk, where shoppers can fill a container with their selection of home-baked cookies for $8 per pound.

The Mission Mall is set for 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Nov. 23 in Fellowship Hall at St. Paul's United Methodist Church, 1965 Ferguson Road, Hampton. Admission is free. For information, call 412-486-7006.

Deborah Deasy is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-772-6369 or ddeasy@tribweb.com.

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