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Gifts that give

Holiday present ideas to spread cheer to your family, friends and the community
Nov 18, 2009
By Colleen Kiphart

Holiday shopping can turn anyone into Ebenezer Scrooge. Between fighting crowds, tackling traffic and clipping coupons, your goodwill towards men can be spent well before December even starts.

To save time and to rest ye merry gentlemen, Outlook has assembled some perfect presents that even a partridge in a pear tree couldn?t squawk at.  When giving these gifts they also give back to the community ? and they are all available right on OHIO?s campus, so you can keep wassailing among OHIO?s eves so green.

Belts, sashes and necklaces
The women in your life do not need another boring brown leather belt to add to their wardrobe. Since spring 2009, Belts Breaking Bondage (BBB), founded by senior social work major Christina Conrad, offers handmade fashionable and funky belts and necklaces made from donated fabrics.

"Of the price of every belt, 85 percent goes to fight human trafficking," Conrad said, "The other 15 percent goes to buying more supplies." BBB raised more than $2,000 in its first three months.

The organization relies on donated fabric and scarves to create their wares, so no two are exactly alike. Many of the belts and sashes come in bright colors and bold patterns, but BBB volunteers are always on hand to help even the most confused fashion novice pick the perfect present.

"Really think about what colors they usually wear," Conrad said. "We are happy to help make a match. And, if you?re unsure what to get, we always have necklaces."

The necklaces - fabric tubes with knots and stones creating the effect of giant pearls or beads - come in a variety of colors and stone sizes. BBB features necklaces to fit any style. There are sedate patterns with small stones and bright, active patterns with large stones. There is something for everyone, from the classic to the eclectic.

BBB offers gifts that fit even a student?s budget; prices range from $6-$10. If you?re still in the giving spirit after all your shopping, BBB is always accepting donations of fabric, scarves, wishing stones and sewing machines. Belts will be on sale at the College Gate or through e-mail at beltsbreakingbondage@gmail.com.

Wooden ornaments and gifts
Ohio University?s Printing and Graphic Services has much more to offer than business cards and stationary. This year they are continuing their Buildings of Campus Signature Ornament Series. Each decoration is engraved with a laser and, according to Blaine Gabriel, director of Printing Services, is "made from trees that were removed from campus because of construction or damage."

New designs for 2009 include the Konnecker Alumni Center, in honor of the Ohio University Alumni Association?s 150th anniversary, and Alden Library, in honor of its 40th anniversary.

If you would rather give a less seasonal gift, Printing Services is also offering handcrafted recipe boxes and wine boxes.

"The wine box can hold two bottles," Gabriel said, "so it could be a great gift to bring for visiting people over the holidays."

These gifts join Printing Services? year-round inventory of clocks, pens and blanket chests.

Ornaments are $15 each or $50 for four, and they can be purchased at Bobcat Essentials in Baker Center or directly from Printing Services, located at The Ridges. All other items range in price from $20 for wooden pens to $375, for a blanket chest, and include custom engraving. These can be purchased from Printing Services by contacting their offices at 740-593-1930.

Native American jewelry
After the rush of finals is over, those still in Athens can stop by the Semi-Annual Native American Jewelry Show and Sale at the Kennedy Museum of Art. The event is sponsored by the Friends of the Kennedy Museum and all the proceeds go directly to supporting the museum.

"We have every type of jewelry at the sale," said Beth Tragert, membership coordinator for the Kennedy. "There are earrings, rings and pins. We even sell some men?s jewelry, like bolo ties, and gifts."

The museum, known for its extensive collection of Native American art, crafts and jewelry, considers this as much about awareness-raising as fundraising.

"A lot of people are surprised to learn there is a museum on campus, but we have a wonderful collection," Tragert said.  "It is a great place for students to come visit."

Many tribes are represented, and that is shown through the variety of styles, stones, and metals used.

"There is a wide range of prices, and this is high quality jewelry," Tragert added. "The pieces involve silver and semi-precious stones."

With intricate detail and handmade uniqueness, every table showcases pieces that could become lifelong favorites to the people on your gift list.

"I always wear a silver ring with amber that I bought at one of the sales," Tragert said.

The sale will be held from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Dec. 3-5 and  from noon to 4 p.m. on Dec. 6. Items will be available in the Christine Demler Brown Center for Education at the Kennedy Museum of Art. Members of the museum will receive a discount. For more information contact Beth Tragert at 740-593-1304.

OHIO gear supporting scholarships
Ohio University's Classified Senate is selling Bobcat charms, toys and tote bags to benefit student scholarships. The green and silver paw print charms and earrings offer an affordable way to show your OHIO pride and support future fans.

All orders are handled by Classified Senate member Cathy Sitko, an administrative associate in the reference section of Alden Library.  
Sitko?s personal favorite item is the OHIO tote bag.

"It has a paw print on it and it zips at the top," she said, "You can use it as a purse without much worry. It?s becoming one of our best sellers."

A great stocking stuffer for younger fans is the Rufus stuffed animal, complete with a spirited OHIO T-shirt, and the 7-inch tall toy is not just for kids.

"These make great gifts for faculty and staff to give their student workers," Sitko said.

A perennial favorite are pillows featuring campus scenes.

"We have a new design coming in," she said. "It has a paw print on one side and OHIO written on the other."

Funds from the sales will contribute to four scholarships sponsored by Classified Senate. Many of these go to students who are not typically covered by other scholarships, such as non-traditional and regional campus students.

Even the most cost-conscious student can find a gift here. Prices range from $5-$50. Items can be purchased by contacting Cathy Sitko at 593-2710 or sitko@ohio.edu, or ordered online by visiting www.ohio.edu/csen/fundraiser.cfm and clicking "On-Line Credit Card Orders."

African jewelry, baskets and handbags
The Empower Campaign will continue to sell its handmade jewelry from Uganda around Athens throughout the winter intercession. The pieces come in a variety of styles and colors - all made with beads created from scraps of paper.

Empower?s executive director, Andria Sherrow, founded the organization five years ago after encountering a boy on a road in Uganda. 

"It began with one child?s request," she said. "He said to me, ?Help me. I have no parents.?"

Empower provides school supplies and uniforms to Ugandan children and rebuilds dilapidated schools, with 75 percent of the profits returned to Uganda.

What makes the Empower Campaign different from other fair-trade organizations is how it is set up.

"We really are investing in the women," Sherrow explained, "We buy the jewelry directly from them. Then we reinvest the profits back into the community."

People purchasing Empower items are essentially giving back twice to Uganda.

And if you see some of this season?s hottest colors on the racks, that?s not an accident.

"We look up the trends and tell them what colors are going to be big this year," Sherrow said. "Last year purple was huge."

New this year, is a multicolored beaded handbag, available online.

Prices are student-friendly, ranging from $3-$40. Empower has sales every Wednesday while school is in session on the first floor of Baker Center from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.  They will also be participating in a variety of local events this season, including The Dairy Barn?s Holiday Bazaar, Dec. 4 and 5, and St. Paul Catholic Church at 38 North College St.  from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Dec. 5. All items can be purchased on the Empower Campaign?s Web site at www.empowercampaign.org/.

Bobcat spirit wear and gifts
When in doubt of where to shop for the OHIO fan on your holiday list, The Bobcat Store is a great resource. The online store, run by the Ohio University Alumni Association, has clothes and gifts for every age, from infants to grandparents.

All of the proceeds benefit the Ohio University Alumni Association,  to continue alumni programming for another 150 years.

Introduce the new baby on your list to OHIO early with a green and white creeper, complete with a paw print. For your friend from college who misses Athens? local fare, there are several gift baskets to choose from. The "Hot Drinks Made in Athens" gift set, featuring Donkey and Seven Hills Coffee, Donkey?s Spiced Chai, Herbal Sage?s Green and White tea, and an OHIO mug, is perfect for chilly nights in front of the fireplace. And there are enough hats, hoodies, T-shirts and mugs to keep you and your loved ones warm all winter long.

The Bobcat Store also features a wide array of Ohio University prints, posters, lamps and furniture.

For the more artistic recipient, check out the line of student-designed sketchbooks with covers inspired by the university and Athens communities. Proceeds from these sales will benefit the College of Fine Arts seniors? Bachelor of Fine Arts Exhibition.

The Bobcat Store has prices to work with big and small budgets, and all items are available year-round at http://bobcatstore.ohioalumni.org/.


Published: Nov 18, 2009 9:35 AM

BBB logo

Belts Breaking Bondage (BBB) offers belts, sashes and necklaces to fit any style or taste. Each belt bears their logo on its underside, an image of a young woman with her head down, symbolizing the distress and loneliness of the victims of human trafficking.

Photographer: Colleen Kiphart


This is a sample of the wooden ornaments that Printing and Graphic Services offers. Each decoration is made from fallen trees on campus, and a portion of the proceeds goes towards campus beautification projects.

Photographer: Rick Fatica


The Empower Campaign introduced this multicolor handbag this year. It is covered in beads that are handmade from paper by women in Uganda. Empower buys its merchandise directly from these artisans and reinvests its profits back into Uganda. They focus on education for Ugandan youth and are now beginning a voluntary HIV/AIDS testing program for children.

Photo courtesy of the Empower Campaign

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