The Beginning of the International Gift Faire
(Article written 2013 by Evelyn Heinrichs)

To help celebrate the global village concept for the annual Bay Area MCC Rally held at Lincoln Glen Church in October of 1985 SELF HELP products from Akron, PA, were introduced. El Camino Bible Church, Blossom Valley MB Church and the San Francisco congregation joined the Rally.¬†Following the more formal service the participants “shopped” the display of handcrafted items from third world countries.

The initial sale was less than $300. The next two year’s sales were increasingly encouraging, though they did not exceed $500. While packing up the residual items for the third year in a row Marcella Claassen and Evelyn Heinrichs, who had been spear-heading this annual effort, determined to expand to the larger community. Marcella’s comment, “We can do better than this!” gave birth to the first annual International Gift Faire.

In the early years, while Evelyn chaired the effort, Marcella and Eldon Classen, Phyllis Claassen, Leonard and Betty Funk as well as Dave and Lynn Hannush from El Camino, Frances Schroeder, Dot Atchison, Linda Wiens and JoAnne Rafferty Schmidt from Lincoln Glen, community residents Norma Jost Voth, Gioia Ingram and Shirley Friesen from Blossom Valley all provided the structure of the planning board as well as the work force. In due time the effort encompassed a larger resource of wonderful volunteers.

The goal has always been to provide help and hope to our third world artisans through the effective merchandizing of their crafts — providing them with a “hands-up” out of poverty to a productive, stable lifestyle. On the eve of our 25th Anniversary, Ten Thousand Villages (Self-Help renamed) has received over $1,000,000 due to the on-going efforts of the San Jose International Gift Faire team.

The following acknowledgements are in order:
1) To Lincoln Glen for generously hosting each event.
2) To El Camino Bible for being our designated
financial institution in the early years.
3) To all the faithful, hardworking volunteers who have
given so much of themselves to this effort.
4) To those who pioneered this effort and the team
that carried it forward to this day.