Jewelry for a cause – Local senior uses talent for jewelry making to bring joy to others

Written by Carl Kurek. Posted in Featured, Health & Wellness, Inspiration

Published on November 19, 2014 with No Comments

As the writer of this article, I’d like to dedicate this piece to my father-in-law, Don, who we lost to liver cancer earlier this year. Don loved reading my articles and proudly shared them with everyone. He is greatly missed. I’d also like to dedicate this to my sister-in-law Autumn, who has bravely battled various cancers since the age of five. Now nearly 30 years later, she is currently fighting breast cancer as well as liver cancer. The strength the two of you have displayed is truly inspiring.

According to the American Cancer Society, cancer remains the second most common cause of death in the U.S., accounting for nearly one of every four deaths. So it is not surprising that nearly everyone has been affected by the disease whether having battled it themselves or knowing someone who has.

South Haven resident Sandra Robinson is no exception as she lost her best friend to brain cancer five years ago and has family members who are either currently fighting the disease or who have passed away from it in the past. She also battled a pre-cancerous condition herself some years ago.

As an active member of the Bonner Senior Center in Portage, Robinson has a lot of friends who share similar experiences relating to the horrible disease.

A few years ago, Robinson signed up for a class in jewelry making at the center. She had always hunted for bargains on jewelry at Goodwill for her senior friends who couldn’t make it out to the store themselves, but often came up empty-handed, so she saw this class as an opportunity to make her friends the jewelry they longed for.

One class project called for Robinson to make bracelets for breast cancer awareness. After showing the finished products to her friends, several of them asked to buy one. It was then that she saw a way to use her talent for jewelry making to bring joy to others.

“They love them, it brings some beauty into their lives at that moment when they look at them and can take their mind off what else is going on,” Robinson said.

“Plus, I enjoy making them because it reminds me of those who I care about that I lost as well.”

Robinson soon expanded her jewelry making to include bracelets and earrings branded to raise awareness for nearly every type of cancer as well as seasonal fashion jewelry. She uses a variety of gemstones, crystals, glass beads, Czech fire-polished beads and glass pearls in combination with cancer-specific charms or holiday-themed decorative buttons to make her jewelry.

Robinson donates 10 percent of cancer jewelry proceeds to the American Cancer Society, but still keeps budget-friendly prices, often selling pieces just slightly above her cost. Most jewelry is priced between $5 and $15 with nothing priced over $25.

She mostly sells her jewelry at craft fairs, but a Valparaiso boutique and a hair salon in Hammond also have her jewelry for sale. However, she insists that word-of-mouth remains her most successful promotion method.

“I make jewelry almost every day, so I have inventory to pull from if someone calls me for a specific cancer piece,” she said.

Robinson continues to educate herself in the art of jewelry making, attending classes taught by local artisans such as Carol Kneifel and Myra Schafer. She has also taken classes at the Chesterton Art Center and from Sue Wade, a jewelry designer from Lake County.

“My love for beading and stitching is insatiable. Jewelry making is a hobby of mine – something I can focus on when I need to take my mind off day-to-day problems. I believe everyone deserves a little sparkle in their life and jewelry making is enjoyable for me,” Robinson said.

“Dedicating my spare time to remember family and friends and anyone else battling cancer seems right.”

Anyone interested in purchasing Robinson’s hand-crafted jewelry can visit one of the boutiques currently selling them.  Robinson can also be reached at 219-764-8433 or by email at slrgri@yahoo.com.


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