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Check out the Dec. 9 Holiday Crafts Fair

There are always special, one-of-a-kind things for sale at the UCOP crafts fair. This year that includes beautiful hand-made jewelry from Afghanistan, with proceeds helping women from that war-torn country support their families.

Jan Corlett, Chief of Staff in Academic Affairs, is selling jewelry at the Dec. 9 event on behalf of the Kabul Women Skills Development Association, a collective that helps impoverished Afghan women build economic self-sufficiency.

“Most of these women are war widows,” Corlett said. “They’ve lost their husbands and they’re trying to support their families.”

Corlett’s long-time friend works for a gender-equity program in Kabul and was instrumental in getting the collective established. Members of the collective are given the tools and skills needed to do stone carving, embroidery and jewelry-making, then they sell their wares at local markets.

From an initial seed grant in 2007, the collective now generates sufficient income that some women are able to pay for their children’s schooling or meet other household needs, Corlett said.

The group primarily sells its jewelry in Kabul and the surrounding region, but Corlett is selling some as a benefit for the program. Stop by her table and you’ll find gorgeous necklaces and bracelets made of amethyst, turquoise, coral, agate and other semi-precious stones – all of which come with the satisfaction of helping a worthy cause.

On a sadder note, there will be no quilts this year from Edna Coleman, UCOP’s former Human Resources director.

Coleman’s mother – who made the quilts each year as part of a church-fundraiser – passed away peacefully in her sleep on October 14, 2010 after a short illness. Lena Mae Dickson was 91 years old, said crafts fair organizer Evelyn Wright.

“We will certainly miss her,” Wight said. “She was a wonderful lady, and her quilts were always among the most popular items at the crafts fair.”

The crafts fair will be held Thursday, Dec. 9, from 10 a.m.-2:30 p.m. in the Franklin Building lobby.

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