Victoria Gregor, program director at the Day Nursery, accepting a basket of gifts from Ten Thousand Villages board member Christina Hillestad and staff marketing specialist Kathryn Greenlea

As a result of Ten Thousand Villages’ recent community partnership with Oak Park-River Forest Day Nursery, kids at the Day Nursery have received gifts of finger puppets, coloring books, stuffed animals and activity cards. Ten Thousand Villages partners four times a year with a community nonprofit, offering the store’s customers an opportunity to purchase items to be donated to those served by these various agencies. This year is the first time Day Nursery has been the recipient of our customers’ generosity.

Oak Park’s Ten Thousand Villages was established in 2007 by a group of villagers committed to the organization’s mission to create opportunities for artisans in developing countries to earn income by bringing their products and stories to our markets through long-term, fair trading relationships. The organization was founded in 1947 by Edna Ruth Byler, a member of a Mennonite community in Pennsylvania, who imported textiles made by women in Puerto Rico, India and Jordan, and sold them from the back of her car.  

The name — Ten Thousand Villages — was inspired by Mahatma Gandhi’s quote:  “India is not to be found in its few cities, but in the 700,000 villages — we have hardly ever paused to inquire if these folks get sufficient to eat and clothe themselves with.” In every village are people who want to live a meaningful life, with dignity, and who bring beautiful culture worth sharing. Multiply the village idea by 10,000, and it represents the world Ten Thousand Villages is working to build for artisans in developing countries.

The store is operated by a board of directors. Denise Walsh is the current chair of the board. The Oak Park store’s 14th anniversary was Sept. 7.

The OP-RF Day Nursery was established in 1912 to respond to the needs of local working parents and their children — a safe, affordable, enriching environment for children to learn and play while their parents worked. The Day Nursery’s creative play-based program instills a love of learning and encourages children’s continued social, cognitive and emotional development, ensuring that they become lifelong learners and achieve success in future formal education. Fees are on a sliding scale to ensure families at all income levels have access to the excellent program. The Day Nursery is licensed to serve 77 children; 60 are currently enrolled. The executive director of the Day Nursery is Cari Christoff; Victoria Gregor is the program director.

Thanks to the generosity of the Oak Park store’s customers, Day Nursery kids received 60 finger puppets made in Peru from Lucuma Designs, and in Ecuador from Minga Fair Trade Designs; 19 sets of activity cards from Barefoot Books, including Global Kids, Mindful Kids, and Yoga Pretzels; and 18 Dandy Pals, also made in Ecuador and from Minga Fair Trade Imports. Putumayo World Music, whose products are sold in the store, donated 70 oversized Europe Coloring Books.

Vickie Engelhardt

Ten Thousand Villages

Oak Park

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