For a year after college, I organized missions trips for church groups. My primary area was a town just over the border into Mexico. As part of my job, though, I also got to travel to other areas to do set-up trips: build relationships with local church and community leaders, research housing and meal facilities, find out about what kind of work projects might be needed/desired, and check logistics for kids programming during that week. Working in this way fed my love of travel, adventure and service.

I’d been a participant in multiple mission trips growing up, and giving back to others was part of my value system.

It still is.

I’ve now got mixed feelings about the efficacy of mission trips and for whom they have the most gain. But that’s a post for another day.

Since I don’t go on many (or any) mission trips these days, I’ve incorporated “giving back” in other ways.

They feel little. But…

A whole lot of littles add up to a lot.

That’s why I’m excited to tell you about Trades of Hope, an organization my friend Teresa is working with. Let me first tell you about Teresa.

She’s organized, methodical, spontaneous, passionate, driven, loyal, thoughtful and complex.

She also happens to be petite, bespeckled and sweet.

She’s got a background in children and ministry and if ever you want your kids to have a rip-roaring good time while still being very safe, go to anything with Teresa’s stamp on it.

Teresa became an associate with Trades of Hope last year (this year? anyway it was winter-y), and again, because Teresa is such a thorough researcher, I knew she didn’t go into Trades of Hope lightly.

These are my Trades of Hope earrings.

These are my Trades of Hope earrings.

This is an organization that supports women who have lived through difficult life situations. These women are just as skilled, intelligent, resourceful and committed as you or I. They just don’t have access to the same resources that we frequently take for granted. Many of these women have pasts in sex slavery, sweat shops, have been shunned from their families because of physical disabilities, or are from war torn countries. These women are now supporting themselves by selling their products fair trade through Trades of Hope.

Each woman has a story. You can read all about the Trades of Hope story on Teresa’s homepage here:

I’m hosting a party at my house soon, and as part of the preparations for it, I’ve decided to have my first blog give away. Here’s how this will work…I think…

The contest will stay open until August 25, 2013, 11:59pm CST.

In order to be entered into the contest you must do two things:

1. Go to Teresa’s Facebook page and hit “like”. Here’s her link:

2. Scurry back here and leave a comment on this post that lets me know you accomplished #1 (see above).

3. Wait impatiently for August 25 to pass. (See above)

4. On August 26, I will select a name at random from the entries and announce it on this blog. I’ll give instructions on how to contact me and claim your prize.

5. The prize is a gorgeous Nepali Aqua scarf from Trades of Hope. Look it up when you are on Teresa’s page. It is really pretty.

This is a perfect chance for you to sample an item sold by Trades of Hope, just as a teaser of all the goodies they have available. If you like scarves, purses, bags, earrings, necklaces, bracelets, etc. that are beautiful and sold at a fair price with the money going to support a woman in a underprivileged area, this is a great organization to be involved with.

So go on now, scoot. Go like Teresa’s Facebook page and come back and tattle on yourself to be entered into the drawing. And if you’re someone who was invited to the party at my house, can you let me know if you are coming? Otherwise I’ll have stuffed mushrooms coming out my ears ’cause I’ll make too many. I wish I could invite everyone to come over because I’m excited about Trades of Hope and I’d love for you to meet Teresa. She’s a wonderful person to know.