Along with the rest of the world, I have been devastated by the events unfolding in Ukraine. Even though it’s sometimes tempting to ignore our emotions, I think it’s important to pay attention to the things that make us cry. One of my favorite authors, Emily P. Freeman, calls tears “magic water” & I have found that paying attention to them is one way God can teach us what He cares about. The challenging part is that oftentimes we can feel paralyzed by helplessness when we see the amount of suffering in the world, like our small contribution isn’t enough. One quote that has been on my mind is, “Do for one what you wish you could do for everyone.” This reminder helps me focus on what I can do rather than being overwhelmed by all that I can’t do.
I spent time praying about how I could help & the pieces started to fall into place. I own Earth Clay, a clay sculpture business where my husband, Jordan, & I travel to art festivals across the country & sell my artwork. I meet lots of different people & because of social media I am able to maintain the relationships made with customers we meet at art festivals. I noticed how many of my friends & customers were feeling the same heaviness & sorrow about the war in Ukraine & I wanted to do something that we could all be a part of together. I had thought about making my own donation to one of the various organizations aiding Ukraine, but I knew I could take that money & invest it to create artwork & sell it so that the amount would be multiplied.
One moment that stood out to me was when I looked up the national flower of Ukraine. My jaw dropped when I saw it was the sunflower. Sunflower necklaces are one of my best-selling items. I figured if I made necklaces with Ukraine’s colors: blue & yellow & incorporated a sunflower into the design with 100% of the proceeds going directly to Save the Children’s Ukraine Crisis Relief Fund, my existing customers would purchase them. I chose this organization because I appreciate that the help they are offering is practical & immediate. They are focusing on providing food, water, hygiene kits, psychosocial support & cash assistance to children & families in crisis in Ukraine. They are a well-known organization with extremely high ratings as an accredited, trustworthy charity. I had initially intended to create around fifty necklaces, but after the first day when I explained my plan on an Instagram video, the response was overwhelming!
Unbeknownst to me, one of my friends, McKenzie Kack, sent my video to Kelli Hanson, a reporter at Twin Cities Live, a popular daytime television show focusing on food, fashion, & fun in and around the Minneapolis/St. Paul metro area. They loved the idea & ended up featuring my Sunflower Necklaces for Ukraine Fundraiser on their show.
After their feature, word spread even more quickly about the project & I knew I had to make more. I decided to dedicate the week to sculpting as many sunflower necklaces as I could while also organizing, planning, & executing the sale of the necklaces on my website. During the week, I kept my Instagram stories updated with the sculpting process & it was the coolest thing to experience the support & camaraderie of everyone which encouraged me each day to keep sculpting. One friend even sent all of the blue clay her local craft store carried to me since I ran out half-way through the week! Social media often gets a bad rap for its polarizing effects, but in the same way people can be united negatively, they can also come together positively & it was amazing to witness. With the support of everyone both on & off the internet, I was able to complete 200 necklaces by the end of the week. The necklaces became available for purchase at 9 AM on Saturday morning & sold out within 15 minutes.
Together, we were able to raise $15,000 for Ukrainian children in crisis in 15 minutes! I still can’t believe it! I am praising God that my website didn’t crash & for everyone’s generosity. I can’t wait to ship the necklaces off to their new owners as a tangible sign of support for Ukraine & a daily reminder to pray for the country each time they wear it.