Get by with a little help for our friends

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I have a passion for reaching out to help people, especially when the cause hits home. When I was in college in a metalsmithing class (one of my favorite classes ever), I decided to focus my first casting project on a charm for my then boyfriend (now husband), who was in the PA National Guard. I gave it to him for Christmas to wear on a necklace so he’d always know I was there believing in him, supporting him, and staying strong “by his side” if he were ever to be deployed. The following February he got the dreaded call that his Chinook helicopter unit was supposed to leave the next day for Ft. Dix, NJ and then to Afghanistan. Luckily for a bad snowstorm, his leaving was delayed by a few days.

While he was gone I felt I needed to do something to raise money for his unit. So, in another metalsmithing class, I re-created the charm and found a casting company in Philadelphia to make it for me, since I was planning on selling more than I could make. My plan for proceeds was to simply pay the manufacturing fees and set aside the rest for the unit, not keeping anything for myself. I began selling them to family support group members and at my mother and father-in-law’s local outfitters store.

Sadly, there was a helicopter crash in Afghanistan, thankfully not part of his unit, and the head of the support group and my mother-in-law were interviewed on the local news. The news anchor noticed that they were both wearing the charm on their necklaces. She asked about it and within a few hours she was in my apartment interviewing me about it! After that, it took off! Since then, I’ve sold around 500 of them. Sales eventually slowed, and as life went on after he came home a year later, and we got engaged, married, worked, had a baby…. I haven’t been selling them for sometime. Which I’d like to change.

Now, as a mature adult, I realize that I do need to keep some profits for myself since I have bills to pay and mouths to feed, but I can still donate more than just a small percentage of proceeds. I’m very moved by the many organizations who help injured servicemen and women, both harmed physically and mentally, and would like to begin selling them again to donate funds to these organizations.

If any of you have suggestions of places or ways to sell them, I’m up for suggestions. I’m going to sell them on my Etsy site, but I’d like to reach more people than just the Etsy lovers.

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