To a Purdue student, the unfamiliar looking bracelets in a local clothing store were more than jewelry – they were moral statements.
Catherine Schamberg, a sophomore in the College of Liberal Arts, followed a friend into Collette Clothing for a two-hour charity event Monday night.
Give Hope, Fight Poverty, a non-profit organization, sold jewelry and artisan items in the West Lafayette store to raise money for the artists in Swaziland who made them.
“I think it’s awesome because the jewelry is different,” Schamberg said. “You’re going to have a sense of identity and you also know you’re helping someone by purchasing it ... so it’s not just a fashion statement, but also a moral statement if you think about it.”
Annie Elble, co-founder of the non-profit organization, started her work six years ago while she was a graduate student at Purdue. Elble and students from various universities, including Purdue, have made a number of trips to Swaziland, working to make the lives of 19 orphans better each time.
“We have one community we’re focusing on until we can get the model down to replicate in other communities,” Elble said. “We’re trying a holistic approach. We deal with safety ... we deal with education ... we focus on nutrition and we try to make it as sustainable as possible.”
In order for them to make these trips and continue providing for the families they’ve committed to, Elble said fundraising has to be a priority. After meeting Collette store manager Renea Vaughn, Elble thought selling jewelry there could be a way to do that.
“(Annie) came in with everything she’s doing and she just inspired me,” Vaughn said. “She’s spending so much time doing this for a charity so I thought it would be a good one. Plus, it impacts a lot of children and a lot of what I like to do with charities is help kids.”
Vaughn also wanted to get the store involved because she knew it was what the previous owner who left her the store would have wanted.
“She actually passed away ... she asked me when she got sick to take over,” Vaughn said. “That’s another reason for tonight. She did so much in the charity world so I’m trying to follow in her footsteps.”
The manager said she would buy items to sell from the non-profit for as long as she could. Elble, grateful for Vaughn’s “big heart,” said it’s usually hard for young people to realize how easy it is to help.
“No person is too insignificant or too uneducated or too anything to do something good,” Elble said. “So many students I meet are like, ‘I can’t wait until I get older and have experience and can do something,’ and I’m like, ‘No. You can do something now.’”