They say it takes a village to raise a child.  This proverb rings true for all of us.  Whether at the workplace, between family, amongst friends, but also, between strangers.  It takes a village to raise each other; to inspire, lift and support.

“From what we get, we can make a living; what we give, however, makes a life.” ~ Arthur Ashe

This world seems so colossal yet so small — I strongly believe we all have a similar purpose in this life and one of the main ones is to ensure we can care for ourselves and those we love.  How we achieve that, truly does take a village (big or small), because patronage from those around us is extremely valuable.

As we head into the holiday season and in full-on shopping mode, while you purchase gifts or personal items for yourselves, did you ever think about those facile and precious hands that have created them?  I often do.  And nothing makes me feel more gratification then knowing I have purchased something that I not only love, but that gives back to the hands that created them.

I recently learned of a company that not only offers an array of spectacular and distinctive products — from unique jewelry to warm woollies, to the must-have toys, kitchen and dining accessories and on-trend home décor pieces — but that strive to improve the livelihood of tens of thousands of disadvantaged makers in more than 30 countries!

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This year Ten Thousand Villages celebrates its 70th anniversary with a stunning holiday lineup of gifts ideas all sourced and handcrafted by makers the world over. 

But Villages is not just a gift shop—its rich history tells a story of entrepreneurship, empowerment, and a commitment to promoting economic development through fair trade craft sales.

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In 1946 Edna Ruth Byler traveled to Puerto Rico with the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) and bought some hand-embroidered linens from disadvantaged craftswomen in La Plata Valley. She paid fair price for the needlework and brought it home, selling it out of the trunk of her car to friends and neighbours.

Today, Ten Thousand Villages has 38 retail locations in Canada and more than twice that number in the United States. Stores, including the newly-renovated concept store on Bloor Street in Toronto, carry a wide variety of stunning, handcrafted goods—a one-stop-shop for home decor, fashion and gifts galore. 

In 1952 after just five years, Byler had become hugely successful in her mission, selling $30,000 worth of goods and reaching more makers throughout the developing world. Her simple idea was blossoming into what would become known as ‘fair trade’ and she would position herself as the pioneer of a global movement for ethical sourcing and human rights.

Today, Ten Thousand Villages is incorporated as an independent non-profit arm of MCC Canada. Profits are reinvested in the organization benefiting makers and their communities. Ten Thousand Villages’ partnerships result in: better education for the next generation, more money for food and shelter, empowerment for the marginalized, community development, and expanded employment and leadership opportunities, especially for women.

In 1972 the first retail store opened under the name Self Help Crafts, selling ‘thrifts and gifts’ from makers around the globe. By this time Edna’s project had been acquired by MCC as one of their initiatives.  

Today Ten Thousand Villages is one of the largest and most experienced fair trade retailers in North America working with 74 artisan groups in 27 countries.

1996 Self Help Crafts decided it’s time for a new name. The name finally agreed upon was Ten Thousand Villages, inspired by the Mahatma Gandhi quote: “I have…repeated times without number that India is to be found not in its few cities but in its 700,000 villages.”

Today Ten Thousand Villages continues to pay makers a fair price for their goods, rather than negotiating the best possible price. Knowing each artisan group they support, as more than just employers, helps establish lasting relationships. Holiday shoppers can feel good knowing the gifts they purchase will not only put a smile on the face of those who receive them, but will go a long way toward supporting a way of doing business that’s changing the world.


What an inspiring and wonderful story of how this beautiful retailer came to fruition.

If you have time (and of course you do!), you must visit them online to learn more and to see all the amazing products they offer.  Check them out here including their latest Holiday Collection.

This is why we just had to have them as part of our #CACGiftList this year, featuring their chic Yellow Eco-Leather Purse made from artisans in India, lovely Filigree Tree Ornament from Indonesia’s Pekerti Nusantara Artisans, and more!

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Courtesy of Ten Thousand Villages, one of our readers will win a cozy and emblematic prize pack featuring 

London Fog Infinity Scarf from India, Drip & Sip Mug from Nepal and Recycled Paper Coasters from the Philippines.

To enter, simply leave me a comment below telling what ways you are (or have done) giving back to your community and to others.

Open to Canadian Residents. Ends 11/28.

Ten Thousand Villages ‘Round the World’ Prize Pack

91 comments on “Ten Thousand Villages ‘Round the World’ Giveaway #CACGiftListGiveaway”

  1. I absolutely love shops like this that are packed full of beautiful handmade things! It’s so good knowing that your purchases are helping out someone who truly needs it. These are always the best places to find gifts too!

  2. It will be the first year giving back during the holiday season. Our 3 year old has purchased a toy that she would like to donate, we also have donated food to our local food bank.

  3. We always try to find a way to help out a group in need this time of year but also throughout the year. We donate food/toys etc through the kids schools or directly to groups that are in need such as seniors association, etc. We also find a way to help out directly by volunteering.

  4. We don’t do much, we donate a few toys each year & we donate any winter gear that we don’t need or doesn’t fit anymore.

  5. This season I’m entertaining kids at a homeless shelter with karaoke nights and an upcoming Christmas song karaoke night. And just started volunteering at a Ten Thousand Villages, and online sales for another fair trade/ecofriendly jewellery line.

  6. We donate our time, talent and treasure throughout the year. It is a wonderful idea to give back to your community.

  7. We donate food, clothing and toys each year. We previously did an Adopt-a-Senior program for Christmas, and I really enjoyed that. Now that my eldest understands more, it is nice to teach her about giving back.

  8. We donate food and our time at our local food bank. Our street also participates in food drive for the holidays trying to provide Christmas dinner for as many families as we can.

  9. We donate food and our family helps out with a Christmas dinner for people in our community that have no place to go on Christmas

  10. We give non perishable food to our church, we donate gently used winter coats and we have helped out with the food kitchen New Years Day

  11. I donate my time. I volunteer for a lot including the 2015 PanAm games, the 2016/17 World Juniors and the 2017 Invictus games.

  12. I help with the SPCA. Right now I help sitting at a table in grocery stores selling raffle tickets for great prizes from local companies.

  13. Our family serves Christmas dinner at a local homeless shelter every year. We also do secret santa for the elderly.

  14. I sing carols with my choir at lots of sing-outs around town at Christmas. Our main concert raises money for the local Palliative Care unit at our hospital. And we buy presents for a needy family in town.

  15. We save all our spare change in a jar and in December we decide which charity in our community to support with the proceeds. We also donate to the toy and food drives.

  16. During the Holidays, my family participates in the Christmas Shoe Box drive where we stuff a box filled with goodies for a kid.

  17. I volunteer extra time to give back during the holidays. Helping feed the homeless. Making gift parcels to give away and sharing lots of cookies I bake with my local police and fire departments.

  18. I love to give back especially around the holidays! I donate things I have won through the year to children who have next to nothing and to adults that could really use a smile. we also go through all of our clothing and donate items that we no loner wear or cannot fit

  19. I save samples from throughout the year to send to the homeless shelters. I also collect samples and what I can for the animal shelters as well. I donate food if I can and new toys when I am able .

  20. We donate to the food bank several time during Christmas, as well the kids always sponsor a child with gifts through their Christmas miracle program at school.

  21. I like to donate toys to the Christmas drive and support our Salvation Army by shopping their stores. We also give monetary donations to different charities.

  22. Several times a year we donate to the food bank and I usually put a gift in a children’s toy drive. Some years we donate to world vision to help people in other countries. I have done tons of local volunteering -in my children’s schools and fundraising for Big Sisters before it merged with Big Brothers.

  23. First, I LOVE TTV so much! It is tough to leave there empty handed.
    To give back my kids and I would wheel up green bins or carry up recycle boxes to the houses of the people who lived on our walk home school on garbage day. Just a little something that was our secret doings.

  24. I donate to the food & toy drives at Christmas to give back. Plus I bake and share some of it with seniors we know who don’t have much or any family around.

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