Dec. 5, 2013, Vol. 11, Issue 24
‘Tis the season for giving, so I digress today from talking about speakers to share a fundraising idea that you might enjoy incorporating into your women’s events. I often hear about collecting pajamas for a women’s shelter or about running or walking for a cause, or other kinds of fundraising events to benefit a women’s charity. I think that fundraising efforts, if they are seen as fun and intriguing, can enhance a women’s expo. So when I heard about the Great Scarf Exchange, I had to check it out. I think this idea is adaptable for women’s health events, so I’m devoting this issue to it – in hopes that it sparks fundraising ideas for your events in the coming year.
Tie One On
I first met Wendy Mitchell, when she was Manager of the Women’s Health Center, at Oregon Health Sciences University (OHSU). Now she’s a women’s health coach, besides having her fingers in lots of other pots. She’s always stirring up something fun, and this fall I received an invitation from her to the Great Scarf Fundraiser at the Portland Child Art Studio, where she is the president of the Board of Directors.
The invitation was to donate 7 – 10 (or more) scarves in like-new condition, and to take one home free. Those numbers worked for me, especially when it came to cleaning out drawers and closets. But, of course, this was a fundraiser, so the extra scarves were available for purchase as well — $10 each or 3 for $20.
Sounded like fun to me. I love to recycle for a good cause, and like many women, I had a drawer full of neglected scarves – gifted, impulse purchased, or inherited. Either I no long owned the clothes they once went with, or my color palette had changed. But the scarves were too pretty to toss, right?
The event took place on a Saturday morning, in conjunction with a costume sale by the Northwest Children’s Theater that is located in the same building as the art studio.
The idea for the scarf exchange had been born driving home from the Oregon Coast one weekend. Wendy and her girlfriend just looked at each other in astonishment, “Do you realize we each just bought another scarf?”
“I did not need another scarf,” Wendy said, “and I found out I was not alone. I started mentioning this scarf exchange idea to friends, and got enthusiastic responses. One woman, right off the bat said, I’ve got 60 scarves you can have.”
And it got better. Wendy said that she found each scarf had a story, and women love both telling and hearing stories. As they dropped off their bags of scarves, she heard story after story, and while I was shopping, I heard some of those stories repeated.
One of the things I love about this idea is that it was easy to execute. Scarves don’t take up a lot of space and they’re easy to display. Wendy hung clotheslines around the art studio, and displayed the scarves by color and type. So I can envision easily doing this in an exhibit booth at a women’s expo.
Wendy said they raised about $1,000. “Women felt good about it. They got into the fun of it. It was a ‘happening’ — they didn’t have to give money, they got to contribute and to shop. It was also a fundraiser for outreach — as well as freeing their old scarves, and adopting some new ones, women learned about the art studio.”
I have to admit I was not able to resist the colorful fun. I came home with my free (adopted) scarf, and bought 3 more. One is a gorgeous hand painted silk scarf that still had the tag on it. The one I almost didn’t choose is the one I have worn the most, and I get compliments every time I wear it. And, of course, I love telling the story about how and where I got it! Every time I’ve mentioned it, women have loved the idea, and want to know about the next scarf exchange. That’s why I think the idea is so adaptable to other types of events – women light up when I talk about it. They want to know more and to participate in the fun.
While I was there, a little girl picked out a blue and pink scarf that I had donated, and I was so happy that it was no longer languishing in my dresser drawer – and in fact brought joy to that girl. That put a smile on my face.
And the leftover scarves did not go back in somebody’s drawer. They were donated to Dress for Success, a local non-profit that helps unemployed and homeless women get jobs. This was a win-win-win combination.
Cookie Crazy Family Fun
We’re just back from a whirlwind Thanksgiving trip to Berkeley, CA. In the midst of a home remodeling project, things were chaotic at best, but with two darling granddaughters to dote on, I could not have been happier.
Our Thanksgiving dinner was a boisterous, eclectic gathering of 38 people, 5 turkeys, at least a dozen pies, and vats of mashed potatoes, and sweet potatoes, and even a platter of “health food” — Get this: kale cooked with pulled pork and barbeque sauce. Kids ran everywhere – along with boyfriends, girlfriends, aunts and uncles – Berkeley people (and their children) who have known each other for decades, now considerably more sober than in the ‘60’s and yet still vital and rebellious.
As most of you who know me know by now, I love decorating sugar cookies, so I was excited to share the fun with my granddaughters, Freya and Astrid, ages 5 1/2 and 2 1/2. My protégés, of course, had their own ideas about cookie decorating, which was much more freestyle than Granma B’s style (picture sugar crystals of many colors mixed up and dumped thickly on top of the frosting). Better yet, just check out the picture! I had all I could do to keep up with them and keep the frosting on the table and somewhere near the cookies. It was too much fun!
That, and their Mom says that my cookies taste far better than the ones from a fancy bakery, even one in Berkeley. That makes me smile, too.
Until next time, I hope you get to make some holiday memories to treasure — messy ones like mine are priceless. Take care of yourself for your well being and those you love.
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