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From Bricks to Chickens, Mart Offers Gifts to World

December 03, 1987|DOUG SMITH | Times Staff Writer

The chaplain at Occidental College this week sold 250 bricks, 5,000 servings of flour, 600 chickens and two or three water buffalo to people who didn't need them.

The goods didn't go to the people who bought them. But the money they paid will buy the goods for people who do need them in Third World countries.

It was Doug Gregg's way of helping the impoverished of the world and teaching the less impoverished the values of charity and action.

More than $6,000 was raised during a two-day bazaar in the campus chapel. It will be used to purchase holiday gifts for those in need in impoverished countries.

The bricks, purchased for 50 cents each, are to be used to build houses for the homeless in Third World countries and the United States. The chickens, purchased for $1 each, and the water buffalo, at $180 apiece, will be given to farmers in such countries as Thailand, Liberia and Haiti.

Some things will end up much nearer to the Eagle Rock campus. Donations of $5 to feed a hungry person for a day will be sent to food pantries in Eagle Rock and Highland Park, Gregg said.

And for those who felt the need to do some giving at home, about a third of the display contained hand-carved wooden trays and figures, stitchery, baskets and jewelry from around the world.

Those items are bought directly from their makers in countries as diverse as India and Kenya by a church-based volunteer group called Loving Hands Gifts International.

The group helps struggling Third World craftsmen by providing a market for their goods and teaching such business fundamentals as production deadlines and quality control, said Glenn Frazier, a volunteer for Loving Hands.

"We help them; they move on to Pier One," Frazier said.

Gregg, who oversees religious services for Occidental's 1,600 students, got the inspiration for the student-staffed bazaar from Alternative Christmas Markets, a 7-year-old Sierra Madre group that conducts about 80 similar events in the Los Angeles area, mostly in churches.

Gregg said he read an article last year about Harriet C. Prichard, who founded the organization, and immediately thought about the 2,000 potential customers, including students, faculty and staff, on campus. He worked with Prichard to select the suitable charities.

"They are mostly well-known and attached to major faith groups," he said.

They include Habitat for Humanity, which builds houses for slum dwellers; the Mennonite Central Committee, which sends blankets to countries such as Vietnam, the Sudan and Nicaragua; Presbyterian Medical Missions, which provides childhood immunizations, and the United Methodist Committee on Relief, which distributes water buffalo and chickens to poor farmers.

Gregg recruited student religious and political action groups to man tables at the event, which he called an Alternative Holiday Mart. He wanted no campus religious group slighted.

Students at the bazaar were encouraged to build their holiday shopping plans around a catalogue called "My Shopping List for the World."

"I think I'm going to buy a door for $60, or maybe a share," which cost $6, sophomore Lilia Gallegos said.

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