Some creations are inspired by the colors of a sunset or the shape of an egg nestled in the palm of a hand, others by a piece of music or the sound of the wind high in the trees. And while these are pretty and look nice on a side table or around a wrist, it’s art that comes from a deeper place and tells a story that is the most widely appreciated. Although the Etsy Cottage Style group is home to many with their own home-based or brick & mortar businesses, more than that it is a place where amazing artists and crafters can meet up, share ideas, and support one another. And what better way to come together as a group that looks beyond the “bottom line” than to band together to create something that will give back to the greater community?
Just a couple of months ago, the call went out: “How about we do a pass-around altered book?” Jewel from Shabby Boutique asked. And since then, the idea has grown from a basic craft to an international project that will be auctioned to raise money for a cause close to this woman’s heart: children with cancer.
The “swap” is still gearing up and getting organized, but we asked Jewel some questions to find out more about how it will work and the inspiration behind it.
What inspired the idea of a pass-around altered book?
J: I was looking at the vintage books at the thrift store; I always try to find books that I had as a kid so that I can get them for my children. I picked one up and thought, “What if I could get some others to do a pass-around altered book with me?” I’ve wanted to do one ever since I saw it on the Carol Duvall Show. But then I wondered who gets to keep it? It would be selfish of me to say that I would keep it since I started it. So, then it hit me—why not do it and then auction it off for the NCCS (National Children’s Cancer Society)? I thought that auctioning on eBay would be an issue since we are mainly an Etsy group, but when I posted the thought in our group, no one seemed to mind. I figured we just might be on to something here! LOL!
Tell us about your personal story and your connection to the NCCS.
J: Well, my story is a long one. But what it boils down to is this: I was in an awful marriage with a man who turned to drugs. Things went from bad to worse financially, and then got very ugly when he started becoming increasingly violent and verbally abusive. One day he just snapped and hit me. That is when I said, enough is enough. That was the Saturday before Mothers Day, and on Monday I got a restraining order to get him out.
Two weeks later on June 1st, 1999, I took my three-year-old son Cody to the doctor. He’d been vomiting on and off for a few days in between playing—you know how little kids can be. But that morning he was just very lethargic and could barely speak. It looked like he was gasping for air, he had no color to his lips, and his eyes were sunken. After calling the doctor’s office and trying to get in immediately, I was given an appointment for 30 minutes later. Even though the office was 20 minutes away, I said, “Whatever it takes, I’ll have him there.”
At first the doctor said that he could see nothing wrong with Cody. But he took a blood sample and soon returned to say that I needed to sit down. He told me it was acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), and I remember sort of laughing but with an edge of panic, saying “Is that serious?” I just dropped to my knees and thought to myself, Now what? I thought that things were going to get better with my ex-husband gone. I was, for once, enjoying life, truly happy and had an inner peace that I have never had before in my tumultuous life.
The doctor immediately sent us to St. Louis Children’s Hospital. Cody was put in PICU right away to have his blood filtered. I found out that he very likely would’ve suffocated in his sleep that night if I hadn’t taken him to the doctor. He had virtually no red blood cells left. I found out several months later that the doctor had already scheduled Cody for a bone-marrow transplant but did not think that he would make it past his first night. Miraculously he pulled through, and we spent almost a year in the hospital.
During that hospitalization I couldn’t work because there was no way that I was leaving him at the hospital alone. I saw way too many kids just dropped off for days, weeks, and months at a time with no visitors or phone calls. So I had the children come to our room, and we watched movies, played games, and did whatever fun stuff we could to pass the time. I missed my other son miserably, but the hospital was nice enough to let Dillon come and stay with us sometimes. I still feel guilty that he lost his father, his mother, and his brother all within a few short weeks and was sent to stay with great grandma and grandpa. But I had to do what I had to do. I just hope that he forgives me for the choice I made.
Everyone kept saying to me that I was amazing and asked how I did it. I’m not amazing. I just did what I had to do and didn’t think twice about it. You just go with the flow, but the real key is laughter. It has always gotten me through the rough times in my life. Even the psychologist said in the hospital, “I don’t understand how you do it. I keep expecting you to crack, but you don’t. You just keep on smiling and laughing and going on.” I just learned a long time ago that if you can’t change it then don’t worry about it. Just laugh and go on.
It was a long battle. I couldn’t work and had no child support, so the NCCS (National Children’s Cancer Society) helped me with my house payments, utilities, gas money, food, you name it. But they also helped emotionally and spiritually, too. I owe the NCCS—and other organizations like it—more than I could ever repay. So I take every opportunity to help them or give back. I don’t think people ever realize how much these charities need our support to help others in time of need until you have been in that situation. I know that I used to sort of frown on the people standing outside of the stores wanting you to donate. I was more worried about how we were going to get food on our table or clothes on our back. But since this happened, I will now be the first one in line to donate. I do as much as I can to help others in my community as well as other communities.
What is the theme for the pass-around altered book?
J: The theme is “Love & Hope for Our Little Angels.”
How will the swap work? That is, who will start it, how will it travel, how many people will be involved, where will it end up, and how will it be auctioned? Also, what about page size and photographs of the work in progress?
J: Everyone who was interested has sent me pages based on dimensions that I gave them earlier. I then made the covers and put them together. There are two books; one with 15 pages and one with 16 pages. Each person made one or two pages and decorated them however he/she liked, using whatever medium he/she liked. I wanted everyone to put his/her heart and soul into it so that love just oozes from the pages.
I would love to have as many people as possible involved with this, and I would like to be able to auction the book off around Christmas time. I think it would be a great time to make the donation as every kid and family needs a little extra then, and it would make a great gift for someone. Since the books are already finished, we are looking for others to donate items to be auctioned off alongside the books to help bring in more money, awareness and to help advertise the books. All who would like to donate items to be auctioned off will keep the items they donate and just send me pictures, your business name/user ID (let me know if it’s Etsy or eBay, etc.), if you will donate shipping or how much you want for shipping, items details, your zip code or area so that I know what to put in the shipping calculator, etc,. The rest will be announced in the group and on the blog. You do not have to be part of ECS to donate items for this event. Anyone willing to help out for this cause is not only encouraged, but appreciated. Anyone that would like to donate anything for this Charity Auction Event may contact me via email with "Love & Hope" written in the message line.
I have been involved with many charity auctions via a group on eBay called P.E.P. (Painting eBay Pretty). I was a group moderator until a few years ago, when opening my own shop meant that I had little extra time. But I have helped with and been in charge of several charity auctions. As a matter of fact, we do one for the Susan G. Komen Foundation every year.
Tell us more about the theme. How do you envision the swap members using that idea? Do you want them to make multi-media art pages? Write stories? Both?
J: I told my story to a couple of ladies, which, without my knowing so, helped them make some tough decisions. Later when they told me how I gave them a spark of hope and courage, it made me feel good that they were inspired by my story. But, really, they found the courage within themselves to do what was right. I love helping others though, that is where I have always gotten my true joy from life. So, if by sharing my stories I can help others, then I will talk, chat, or email away. LOL!
I envision pages just oozing with Love & Hope for our little ones. Everyone has her own idea of what Love & Hope is, and that is what I envision for this book.—everyone’s ideas and hearts coming together. They can write poems, paint on the pages, write stories, or share their own family photos—just whatever comes to mind when they think of Love & Hope. I want the members to use their hearts and creativity.
As written by Tiffani aka Ric Rac Sally
Cody when we first got to the hospital before they started treatment on June 2nd 1999
His favorite thing to do was put lotion on his feet. It relaxed him, so he would do it several times a day. We should take a lesson from him and take time to pamper ourselves. :)
Cody after they started his chemo. He couldn't even feed himself because of all the tubes and wires in the way. I had to feed him.
After they started his chemo. We thought that he wasn't going to lose his hair because he kept it for about 2 weeks after chemo started. But then one day he woke up and hair everywhere. Through it all he stayed positive though.
The doctors and nurses dubbed this purple car "Cody's Car". One of the Doctors even put a license plate on it that said "Cody's Car". That car got a lot of mileage put on it by Cody. We would spend hours wheeling around his pole so he could just go in circles in that car. Then he figured out how to do it himself. That was a sight, pole in one hand and the steeing wheel in the other. LOL I wish I could find a pic of that.
This is cody today. He is 13, healthy and happy. I Thank God every day that he is still with us.
If you would like to know more about NCCS, please visit their website. Please spread the word and help this organization help those children and families in need. And please mark your calender and come back during the charity auction event to make sure that you help support NCCS. Thank You so much for your help, as it truly means a lot to us!
When will this event be held?
The "Love & Hope for Our Little Angels" Charity Auction Event will be held from November 15-22, 2009 on eBay, user ID etsy_cottage_style (etsy_cottage_style). At that time we will be auctioning off the two books, support banners and other creations from our Etsy Cottage Style members and others.
If You Would Like to Donate to This Amazing Charity Event
Here is how it will work and what information we will need if you would like to donate items for this amazing charity event:
If you would like to donate an item or items to this charity auction event you will send us the information that we need to post your item on eBay and then we will list said item. Once the auction is over and the item is paid for, we will notify you and give you the information you will need to ship the item to the person that won the auction. The cut off date for accepting donations will be November 8th, 2009 at 11:59pm CST. This will give us time to get the listings ready so that we can prelist them to all start on November 15th. We will not be able to accept items after the cut off time and date. If you would also like to run auctions on your own eBay user ID during this time for the charity auction you may do so. It would help also if you could point out that there are other items for auction under the Etsy_Cottage_Style user ID so that we get more traffic to help promote the books, which is the main items being auctioned off, and the other items being auctioned off..
The information we need for the items that you would like to add to this charity auction event will be:
1. Your eBay user name/ID, (if you have one) or your business name or name on Etsy Cottage Style, Etsy, website, etc,. We also need to know your real name, but if you would like us not to post that in the listing, or would just like your first name listed or any other special requests concerning the use of your real name, then please just tell us in your email. We will post the name of your eBay user name/ID (if you have one) and one other business name/user ID/name on the listing of your item/items.
2. Pictures of the item/s you are donating. Please make sure that you pictures are clear and lighted properly so that buyers are sure of what they are getting. Please make sure that if there are any flaws that you have clear pictures of them as well. Pictures should be around 400 pixels wide but no larger than 550 so that they are not too slow to load on dial-up computers. Also if you can compress your images without lessening the quality of the photo, then please do so. That will also help our dial-up users.
3. We will also need clear and concise details and descriptions of the item/s that you are donating so that the buyers know exactly what they are purchasing. Please know that the more information that you give, the better it is for the buyers. We will not be editing your descriptions though, we will only be cutting and pasting them into the listings, so please make sure that they are in proper format, spelling and paragraphs as well.
4. We will also need an email address to add to the listing so that if buyers have a question/s about the item that they may contact you. And so that we can contact you about your item/s and send you the information you will need to ship the items to the buyer once the sale ends.
5. Will need to know what zip code, country, etc,. you will be sending the item from so that we can put that in the listing as well. We will also need to know if you will be donating shipping as well or how much you will need for shipping for both International and US shipments. Please know that you will be insuring and tracking the packages as well for both International and US shipments because of this being for charity. So, please remember to include those extra costs in the shipping amount. You may also wish to put in shipping as a flat rate or a based on buyers address so please let us know that as well. If you are adding in an extra amount for insurance, tracking, etc,.on a "based on buyers address" it will be added in as a handling charge so we will need to know what that handling charge is so that we can add that as well. Also, if you could put all of this information in your description it will also help the buyers know what the shipping charges are. EBay will not allow for insurance to be optional on items sold on eBay anymore, so that is why the insurance now has to be added in to the shipping charge either as a handling charge or in the flat rate amount.
6. All auctions will start off at $9.99 and donations will be 90% of the sale price. The other 10% will go towards Paypal and eBay fees. Any amount left over after the fees are paid will go to NCCS through Mission Fish.
7. Please send all of your donation information here with "NCCS Donation" in the subject line so that we know that it is donation information. If you have other questions, concerns or comments please email us separately from your donation email so that we make sure and get back to you right away. Also, if you get an email from us concerning your donation, please respond to it as quickly as possible so that we can get your listings up as soon as possible. And be sure to check your spam/junk mail folders as well once you send us your donation information as well, just in case we contact you and it goes to your junk/spam mail folder.
Purchase a Support Banner for NCCS
We will also be selling Support Banners that you can purchase with the proceeds to also go to NCCS. Purchase as many as you wish for yourself or to give to friends, neighbors, relatives and even your favorite sellers. They are already for sale and will be on sale until November 23rd, 2009. You may place these banners on your blog, in your emails, in your eBay auctions/stores, on your website's or anywhere else that you would like to show your support for such a wonderful cause. You will be receiving these graphic banners in your email so once you purchase it/them remember to watch your email (the email address that is attached to your Paypal account) for them. Please not that we will only be sending one per purchase/email account. You may then send them on to the loved ones that you purchased them for if you purchased more than one. Below is what the banner looks like and if you click on it it will take you to the eBay listing for purchasing them.
Help Spread The Word
If you could please post the banner below and link on your blog or site to help us spread the word about this wonderful charity event, we would most appreciate it.
To be held November 15-22, 2009 on eBay under user ID etsy_cottage_style
Here is a Slide Show of some of the Pages that are in the Book! This is just a Sneak Peek!
If you need any more information about this event or to send your information to us for your donations or for any questions you may have, please contact us. If you are sending us your information regarding your donation to this event, then please put "NCCS Donation" in the subject line so that we know to add those emails to our list of donaters. Thank You All so much for your help and support with this Charity Event. If you would also like to help with this event you may also contact us.
Thank You from the bottom of our Hearts!