A fascinating new art gallery in Punta de Mita is playing an integral role in empowering local women to live with dignity and purpose. And it's really nice to know that when you buy a piece of original art or jewelry, a basket, photograph or home decor item at Art and Philanthropy you not only add beauty to your own life, but help the economically underprivileged to help themselves - a percentage of the proceeds used to give them the tools they need to make money through their own creative efforts.

A shared appreciation of Mexico and art, as well as a desire to help the common good, led Molly Fisher and Rebecca Peragine to create an informative website, www.artandphilanthropy.com, and a wonderfully eclectic gallery to raise funds and awareness for charitable organizations here, 25% of each sale going to a specific cause.

Some of that money will support Community House in Punta de Mita (Casa Comunidad), where women take courses that are both practical and fun, while their children are at the center's after-school program.

The gallery features baskets from the Recycled Art (Reciclaje Artesanal) line, made by women from Mujeres con La Tierra, a new grassroots organization to empower local women. Spearheaded by retired educator Vivian Hemphill, it currently teaches 10 people living in the area's barrios how to make folk art from materials that might otherwise end up littering streets. It is then sold at the gallery, providing the opportunity to earn an income.

Vivian started with Candelaria Oñate Alvarez, who recruited additional participants among her neighbors. And the baskets these señoras make from old newspapers, flyers and even the bags tortillas come in really strike a chord with those who appreciate not only their unique good looks and utility, but the fact that they symbolize respect for both women's human rights and the environment. And since the line will soon extend to reading chairs, the next time you're perusing a cereal box it's kind of fun to think that you could be sitting on a few of them too!