Bangladesh Artisans

On August 19, 2003, a terrorist attack killed 22 people at the United Nations headquarters in Baghdad. Sergio Vieira de Mello, the UN’s top representative in Iraq, was one of the people who lost their life.

According to the United Nations, “World Humanitarian Day (WHD) is held every year on August 19 to pay tribute to aid workers who risk their lives in humanitarian service, and to rally support for people affected by crises around the world” (United Nations). In other words, WHD is when we honour those who have volunteered their time, sometimes in dangerous places, to help others all over the world. Additionally, it’s an opportunity to support organizations that help others around the world.

This year, on WHD 2019, the UN is honouring and celebrating #WomenHumanitarians from around the world who risk their lives to help those in crisis.

Here at Ten Thousand Villages, on WHD, we want to thank our volunteers.  Our volunteers give their time in our head office, distribution centre and in our stores across Canada. With their help, we are creating life-changing opportunities for individuals, families and communities around the world. Without them, our work wouldn’t be possible.


World Humanitarian Day is a chance to support those people and organizations that are working towards improving the lives all over the world. If you’re looking for a way to make the world a better place but are unsure where to start, you can visit our website to find out more information about volunteering at one of our stores.

Volunteering at Ten Thousand Villages St Denis MontrealVolunteering for Ten Thousand Villages is a family affair for Anita Lunden. Not only did her mother volunteer in sales years ago, but so did her daughter back when she was at university. When Anita moved to Edmonton, she grabbed the chance to volunteer four or eight hours a week too.

Giving her dedication and time just makes sense for the business and technology consultant who eventually joined the board of the Ten Thousand Villages store in Edmonton. 

Ten Thousand Villages Finger PuppetsGiven that our holiday campaign tagline is ’Tis the Reason, we thought it might be fun to ask a few of our younger shoppers to answer a question:

“What is the reason you like to shop at Ten Thousand Villages?”

We received a number of really great responses, and here are some of our favourites:

“Camels.” (boy, age 5) – He felt that all nativities should have camels, and Ten Thousand Villages is the place to find them!

SelfHelp Photo’Tis the season for milestones at Ten Thousand Villages!

At this time of year, we celebrate our anniversary as an organization. This year, we’re marking 68 years since Edna Ruth Byler started selling the needlework she brought back from Puerto Rico.

And while the motivation behind our efforts has remained constant over these 68 years, much has changed. For example, in the early years, we were a grassroots movement run entirely by volunteers. Today, while volunteerism remains a big part of who we are, we’re now a world-class retailer with more than 120 stores scattered across North America.

Volunteers are LOVE in motion- AuthorIt is a great thing to find a place where one can volunteer among generous souls in support of a good cause. Work becomes a delight and co-workers become friends.

This has been my experience as a volunteer at the Dix Mille Villages shop on St-Denis in Montreal, where I have been helping out on a nearly weekly basis for more than a year.

As you may know, Dix Mille Villages (Ten Thousand Villages) relies heavily on volunteerism. It helps keep the cost of overhead down so more resources are available to fulfill the mission, it creates communities of support for the principles of Fair Trade, and it strengthens the society within which it functions. As journalist Brian O’Connell writes, “Volunteering creates a national character in which the community and the nation take on a spirit of compassion, comradeship and confidence.”

Clara's cake with ingredientsFor Colombian native Clara Salamanca, baking a “Hummingbird Cake” is truly a labour of love.

The tropical ingredients – dried pineapple, shredded coconut, sugar and bananas – remind her of home. And many of the dry ingredients can be purchased at the Granville Island Ten Thousand Villages store where she volunteers every Saturday afternoon.

Equally as important, the recipe is based on one she found in an Australian magazine she purchased while visiting her daughter Gabriela, who lives “down under.” This yummy dessert is therefore a beautiful reminder of a daughter she wishes she could see more frequently.

Nobody can do everything, but everyone can do something.

VolunteersI’m Maria Lyons, manager of the Ten Thousand Villages store in Victoria, BC. I started volunteering at Ten Thousand Villages in Victoria eight years ago, and now proudly manage a dedicated team of wonderful staff and volunteers.

Ten Thousand Villages was started by a volunteer 68 years ago, and has grown because of the enormous support we continue to receive from volunteers. Since the organization’s inception, volunteers have played a vital role in allowing us to pursue our mission.

Our volunteers are drawn to us for many reasons: to gain high school credits; to learn new skills; to meet new people; to give back. Many of our volunteers come to us because they have travelled abroad and witnessed the challenges of life in developing countries. Ten Thousand Villages gives teenagers an opportunity to work alongside seniors, and empowers people with shared values to work together.