A Beautiful Bag in So Many Ways

In an effort to minimize a carbon footprint, I usually try to buy local. I especially try to steer clear of anything that needs to be shipped from overseas. However, recently I threw those ideals to the wind. I’m going to do so again, in fact, and I’m encouraging you to do the same.

Let me explain.

Back in February, I happened to be traveling and, as usual, was lugging my computer bag. It’s a well-worn diehard, having served me faithfully for more than 20 years. Yet, on that trip I decided a trolley strap sure would be nice and perhaps it was time for an upgrade.

Voilà, I found this beautiful bag from Cowhidea on Etsy. I ordered it right away.

Typical to me, it wasn’t until I clicked “Buy” that I noticed the bag was made in and shipping from the Ukraine. And a week later, Russia invaded that now devastated country—can we all say Putin and his ilk are despicable human beings?

One of the things I appreciate about Etsy commerce is the one-on-one opportunity between buyer and seller. Irina, from Cowhidea, was an excellent communicator. She immediately thanked me for my order and provided its shipping information. I told her we were following her country closely and praying for her safety.

As one could expect, shipping during times of war is difficult and my bag took more than ten weeks to arrive. Through it all, Irina continued conversing and I continued praying. In her last text, she wrote, “We are safe and sound, keep going on and try to work hard, support the economy and Ukrainian people. Today we celebrate an Easter and the only thing we praying for is a peaceful sky.”

I can’t imagine the horrors the Ukranian people are living through, can you? We’ve all seen news images of families grieving, children in fear, homes and buildings obliterated. Perhaps after ten weeks, we’ve hardened ourselves to such visuals and no longer feel the intensity of heartbreak. Yet, my beautiful bag is a reminder that for people like Irina, this horror is a daily reality.

In times of humanitarian crises, we all want to help. There are many non-profit and church organizations providing direct aid to Ukrainians to which we can donate. There are other ways we can help as well—creative ways thanks to today’s world of global commerce—where we can directly and immediately get cash to Ukrainian small businesses and artisans. Many supporters have paid for AirBnB reservations with Ukrainian hosts even though they have no intentions of staying. Others support Ukrainian sellers on Etsy and eBay. We salute this.

Which takes me back to Irina and her Cowhidea shop. Perhaps you’re needing some leather? She currently has her goods on sale for 50% off. Or maybe you’re interested in other Ukrainian Etsy sellers? Or maybe simply looking to donate. However you feel moved, let’s continue to support the Ukrainians—all people, for that matter, who need our help.

Happy May Day everyone! It’s a beautiful day for giving!

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