Many don’t know that there is a large refugee community in Erie. These refugees bring with them a vast treasure of culture and crafts which they don’t often have an opportunity to showcase to the general public.
To remedy this, members of the Social Work and Sociology departments and the Honors Program have organized the Global Gifts Fair.
This event provides an opportunity to “empower the refugees” as well as “educate the Erie community,” according to Sarah Woodring, a senior at Mercyhurst and the leader of the team organizing the event.
“The goal for the event,” she said in a recent interview, “is to help bring more of the refugees’ culture to Mercyhurst, and make it more interactive for the community.”
To that point, there will be more than just vendors plying their wares.
While there will be artisans from the refugee community offering goods such as jewelry, scarves, headbands, the team is also planning to bring in dancers and musicians to help give the attendants of the fair a better view of the cultures which exist in Erie.
There will also be two artists there to provide henna designs to interested students, as well as multiple food vendors bringing the treats and delicacies of their homelands.
Countries such as Nepal, Bhutan, South Sedan, Liberia and Ghana will be represented at the fair. “We’re adding to the list as time goes on,” Woodring said.
The fair is a chance for these often overlooked members of the Erie community to show off the cultures they have brought with them to the United States.
It is also a chance for them to earn a bit of income because 100 percent of the profits from this event are going to the refugees themselves.
The team is asking for help in gathering personal care items for the refugees.
Items such as toothpaste, toothbrushes, floss, men’s and women’s razors, etc. are being requested above all else.
Donations of craft items, such as beads, yarn, cloth, are also being accepted.
In addition to these, gift cards for stores where they can buy specific items for themselves are being accepted.
“We’re trying to stay away from clothes and used items this year,” Sarah said, in keeping with the spirit of helping to empower the refugees, instead of just giving handouts for them.
The Global Gifts Fair will be held on Tuesday, Dec. 3, in the Rec Center.
Donation boxes will be situated in the following locations: east stairwell of the Old Main lobby, Mercyhurst Bookstore, Hirt Academic Center (lower level) and on the main floor of the Carolyn Herrmann Student Union. Donations may also be delivered to Peggy Black (Preston 111) or Laura Lewis (Preston 108).
For more information, contact Sarah Woodring at email@example.com.