Self-help, or teaching a person to provide and care for herself and her family,
may be one of the greatest forms of tzedakah (charity). Mini Gifts
makes it possible for almost anyone to participate in this mitzvah
by selling products made by women in need. MINI, an abbreviation for Made
in Israel by New Immigrants, is a self-help organization for women by women.
Founded by Doreen Gainsford, an immigrant to Israel herself, Mini Gifts has
been helping women who are considered unemployable to become self-sufficient.
A former designer for Christian Dior
prior to moving to Israel from England, Gainsford designs the fabric mixes
and patterns for Mini Gifts. The women are trained to sew quality merchandise
“that will meet the high standards of Los Angeles and Geneva” says Gainsford.
The work is geared for the high end market and is neither mass produced nor
created for the mass market. “They work in their own homes at their own
pace. Our sewers are paid upon completion of a project. The women are directed
to sew according to the Mini Gift specifications, using the fabrics, threads
and designs supplied to them. They make what they are given, and they are
expected to follow the patterns and not deviate from the designs, colors and
fabrics.” It is not a coincidence — but rather an integral part of Mini
Gift’s mission, that with the exception of organza, all of the fabrics are
made in Israel.
The organization employs five full-time
people, and contracts anywhere from between 50 and 100 hundred sewers at a
time. The local Russian-languague radio station supports Gainsford’s employment
program by advertising — without charge — the sewing opportunties.
Mini Gift’s table fashions include
tablecloths, matching napkins and cloth napkin rings, placemats, runners,
collapsible bread/roll or matza boxes, and fashionable Judaica tableware
including challah covers and Pesach sets.
One of the Pesach sets was created
in conjunction with the Israel Museum. Based on the blue and white seder plate
sold by the museum the matza bag, afikomen bag, collapsible box (to hold
matzoth), tablecloth and napkin holders, all feature a blue pattern based
on a seder plate in the museum’s collection.
The company began
nine years ago in the immigrant absorption center in Ramat Aviv where immigrant
women under Gainsford’s supervision began sewing gift items. “You get great
ideas in life and then you go into happening,” says Gainsford. In other words,
Gainsford not only has great ideas, but she also knows how to put those ideas
into action. Always involved in helping others, Gainsford was instrumental
in developing the volunteer programs throughout Ashkelon in the 1970s and
1980s, that helped integrate that population. From there she began to build
ties with members of the new immigrant community from Ethiopia.
With a wealth of ideas, and not one
to be deterred by obstacles, Gainsford is a person who demonstrates that an
individual can change the world, at least for a few fortunate people.
Tablecloths all have signature borders.
They range in size from 90×90 cm to 3.50×1.70 meters; and come in a wide variety
of fabrics and styles. Special orders are always available.