Treasures from around the world available at Service Center

NEIGHBORS

January 26, 1995|By JUDY REILLY

Sometimes the best things in life are right under your nose. This is surely the case in northwest Carroll County, where the New Windsor Service Center offers a gift shop that's out of this world.

The variety of merchandise, the quality of the crafts, and the good feeling you get when you buy something there makes this a "must-visit" for any shopper.

For those new to the area, or who haven't been to the shop before, be prepared to discover a beautiful array of merchandise at low prices. The goods come from 40,000 artisans from 40 countries in Asia, Africa, and the Americas.

These are impoverished artisans who need help in marketing their crafts; most of the money you spend on a handcraft goes directly back to the person who created it.

The reason that prices are low, according to handcrafts promotion and publication manager Sheila Buttner, is that volunteers from all over the country are used to price and package the crafts.

Over the years, nearly 5,000 volunteers have come to New Windsor to participate in the project, she said.

The nonprofit shop in New Windsor is affiliated with the Church of the Brethren and is a member of the International Federation of Alternative Trade, which also operates shops in Towson and in New York City.

The marketing effort involves 3,500 churches and service organizations and includes a merchandise catalog with a circulation of 130,000.

For folks who haven't visited the New Windsor shop in a while, there are some new lines of merchandise worth checking out -- the pottery from Vietnam and carved rosewood furniture from India, plus a coffee bar.

You can sit down at one of the cheerful red tables and relax with a 50-cent cup of freshly brewed coffee, offered in seven flavors.

Tea and cocoa are also for sale and you can buy coffee beans to take home.

The coffee has been so popular that, beginning on Wednesdays in February, the shop will offer the Indian tradition of a coffee break between 1 p.m. and 4 pm. Fruits, nuts and sweets, plus a variety of coffee flavors to taste, will be offered for $2.50.

For information about the gift shop, call 635-8711; for information about the handcrafts marketing project, call 635-8775.

*

Some teachers will do anything to get their kids to come tclass.

At Elmer Wolfe Elementary School last week, third-grade teacher Merryn Cantrill dressed like a hobo -- in overalls, tattered shirt and baseball cap on backward, then sang the theme song from "Barney" over the public address system to the entire school during morning announcements.

She did this to fulfill a promise to her students: if they, as a class, achieved perfect attendance for 20 school days she would do whatever the kids wanted. In this case, it was a little humiliation -- exactly what kids love to see in a grown up.

*

Tonight's the night for reading, reading, reading at Elmer Wolfe. January has been declared Maryland Reading Month, and Norma Knox, reading specialist at the school, together with her committee of teachers, has planned a really big night.

Three events will be going on simultaneously today, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Before the events, there will be a family reading time, RTC where people are encouraged to read together. Bring a blanket and pillow for sitting on the cafeteria floor.

Then, a guest story teller, Lara Moreau, a teacher at Mechanicsville Elementary, will entertain and engage the children in interactive story telling -- a method in which the kids take on the parts of the story's characters.

There will be puppet making, too, and other make-and-take activities. The evening will end with drama club members from Francis Scott Key High School performing their renditions of three different fairy tales.

If you haven't seen these students in action before, it's a treat. Even if you don't have a child or grandchild at the school, you're welcome to attend tonight's event. Last year, in spite of the snow and ice, 190 people attended and had a wonderful time.

"I hope tonight will provide an opportunity for families to read together," said Ms. Knox. "And that it will help promote literacy for all of our families."

In addition to tonight's activities, the joy of reading has been promoted in many other school functions.

Susan Roberts, a story teller from the Carroll County Public Library, has performed for the youngest students and at the end of this month, local children's author Lois Szymanski will speak to and offer a book signing for the upper grades.

Teachers at the school have been switching classes and acting as guest readers and parents and grandparents have been reading, too. Fund-raisers from Cherrydale Farms and the Troll Book Club have added book titles to the library and classrooms, and at this year's Spring Fling, a book swap will offer a free or very cheap (25-cents a book) way for kids to buy books of their own.

If you would like to be a volunteer reader at the school, or want to participate in tonight's event, contact Ms. Knox at 775-7133.

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