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Tying Us Together This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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“Make the four, then pull the thread up, and do that again.” I was teaching a group of second-grade girls how to make a friendship bracelet. They had seen it on my wrist and begged me to show them.

It had been ten months since I started my bracelet business, but I still loved tying the threads into beautiful arrangements of colors. The business began in February 2010, a month after a 7.0 magnitude earthquake decimated Haiti and took thousands of lives. The images shocked me, and I felt compelled to help. The previous year I had spent a week helping build an orphanage in Juarez, Mexico. I met wonderful kids who taught me about finding joy in all circumstances. When I visited their homes and school, I was stunned by the poverty that surrounded them. I returned home inspired to continue serving children living in poverty overseas.

Knowing that many kids were suffering in Haiti propelled me into action. For a year, I had been teaching myself how to make friendship bracelets. I loved mastering complicated patterns, and soon I had more bracelets than could fit on my wrist. To raise money and awareness for Haiti, I decided to sell my bracelets on Facebook. The proceeds would go to the orphanage my church supports in Port-au-Prince, which had taken 400 students into its school after the earthquake caused the closure of 20 percent of Haitian schools.

My main goal was to raise money for the victims, but I also hoped to inspire others to donate to disaster relief efforts and even pursue their own fundraising ideas.

I uploaded pictures of the 30 bracelet patterns I could make to Facebook. The prices ranged from $2 to $16. Every bracelet was personalized, with customers choosing colors, letter fonts, and a fastener. I invited everyone I knew, and many of my friends passed the invitation on to their friends. Within an hour I had over 30 orders!

From February to June, I tried to make a bracelet every day, which meant I had to be very disciplined. I did not want to get behind on orders, since some of the more challenging bracelets took three days to make.

My teachers, friends, and family were very encouraging. All the girls on my volleyball team bought bracelets, and many placed orders for friends too. I was humbled by all the interest in my project; I even had orders from girls I didn't know who had found the business on Facebook. I made bracelets for upperclassmen at school whom I barely knew, and I even had an order from my brother's college roommate's brother in Boise, Idaho. The project succeeded thanks to the enthusiastic response from my extended community, eager to help the earthquake victims.

But it wasn't until I met Wislandie that the project came full circle. Wislandie is a 10-year-old girl who was adopted by a local family in February 2010. She goes to my church and has become a great friend of mine. One day, she complimented me on the bracelets I was wearing. I told her about my business, and Wislandie was so excited she asked me to make her a bracelet in the colors of the Haitian flag with her country's name on it. Wislandie, a child rescued from the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, now has two parents and a wonderful home. She gave money to help her brothers and sisters who are still in Haiti so they could stay in school.

I still make bracelets, but my pace has slowed to one a week. I volunteer at an afterschool program and am teaching these girls to make bracelets. I hope they, too, will use this skill to help others. The project gave me the confidence that I can make a difference and use my talents to help others. And that's the best gift a person can give.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.




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all that herbert said...
Apr. 9, 2012 at 8:14 pm
i relly think its a nice thing to do <3
 
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