By Tanner Cole The Hawk Eye, Burlington, Iowa
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) This is how "Missional Mamas" works, Each "mama" reaches out to a ministry somewhere around the world to get their products to sell on behalf of women in less developed countries. Shipping costs are fronted by the group, which is all-volunteer based. The original Missional Mamas event mostly featured handbags from Timbali Crafts, which helps support women in Swaziland.
The Hawk Eye, Burlington, Iowa
With a little help from Burlington mothers, area shoppers bought Christmas presents from needy workers in Ethiopia, Bangladesh and other countries.
Tuesday evening, The LOFT Market in Burlington lent its space to Missional Mamas. Eight years ago, the group began as a biweekly prayer group, but they wanted to do even more. The next year, they tried selling handbags out of a home owned by Carly Frankovic in a one-day open house event. Her sister, Stacey Stevens, has helped organize every sale since. She said they had a line out of the door their first year and attracted 200 customers. They sold out.
"That first year, we sold like $25,000 worth of stuff between the farmers market and the open house," Stevens said. This year, they had 14 vendors from overseas and five local sellers who donated the money they earned to foreign relief products. All the products are fair trade.
Stevens estimated the open house sale would make somewhere between $10,000 and $14,000 for the various causes. Many of which specifically benefitted needy mothers and women.
"It uses American consumerism in a time when people are buying, but what you buy is benefiting someone who needs it," Stevens said. "Most of these are bought to be given as gifts, but you're giving a gift to someone just by buying it also. And it's giving them so much more than just a way of life. It gives them dignity and pride, worth."
Each mother involved reaches out to a ministry somewhere around the world to get their products. Shipping costs are fronted by the group, which is all-volunteer based. The original Missional Mamas event mostly featured handbags from Timbali Crafts, which helps support women in Swaziland.
Sheena Abbott of Burlington perused the bags moments after they opened for business.
"I'm out shopping for a good cause," Abbott said. "All the missionary things are stuff you don't just see in a store. I'm just trying to decide which bag I would like."
Abbott and others shoppers perused goods from throughout the world. There were crafts from India and Bangladesh through a program called Rahab's Rope. Mercy House Global sent jewelry to sell from parts of South America, Africa and southern Asia. Many products came with labels showing photos of who made them and little stories about the workers' lives.
Stevens said several mothers have gotten to travel to the ministry sites to volunteer in person and make sure they are what they claim to be.
On the local side, Jane Schmidgall sold her homemade soaps to benefit an orphanage in Mexico at which she used to volunteer and a vacation Bible school program in Ixtlan del Rio, Mexico, where her daughter-in-law is from. She was happy to find a way to help the areas from so far away.
Another local vendor was manned by a team of young boys. Loaves of Love is a new program operated by the Zaugg family in Burlington to raise money for mission trips and teach their boys a sense of investment in charitable work. Jodi Zaugg had her sons offering samples to shoppers.
Organizer Megan Snyder was excited for this year's sale. She started with Missional Mamas in its second year, and this year, she greeted shoppers as they entered the store. She's happy to lend a helping hand all the way from southeast Iowa.
"This is a much better gift to be able to give this and see who made it and who it's supporting," Snyder said. "Not only is it blessing the person you're giving it to, but you're blessing the person who made it."