The Jewelry Drive
Gems for Gems began in 2015 as a Christmas Jewelry Drive in which the women of Calgary donate their gently used jewelry. It would then be cleaned, packaged and given as a Christmas gift to those who had experienced abused and were currently residing within Calgary shelters.
The idea came to me after remembering a specific childhood moment in which the nature of a mother’s love became clear to me for the first time…
Our childhoods all vary in one way or another and my variation was the other. We were living in Nova Scotia and had very little always and sometimes, we didn’t have what most would consider the basics.
The situation between my Mum and Dad was a complicated one with both sides feeling they were doing all they could. However, it ended with Mum having to care for us alone. Much time was spent trying to make our existence as magical a childhood as possible by rubbing the two pennies she had together and hoping for the best.
Christmas after I turned 14 my brother, sister and I pooled our money together, (this amounted to about $50) and collectively bought her the most beautiful item we could afford. It was an antique-looking bracelet with clear, tiny gem stones encrusted throughout and we were so excited to give it to her! Prior to this year we each would have saved around $50 to spend on the entire family so the usual gifts for Mum were socks, mittens. This year, we had stepped it up and we couldn’t wait!
When Mum opened it Christmas morning she beamed, cried, then smiled more and eventually she told us that it meant so much to her and she didn’t take it off all day.
From that day forward, each time she wore it she also put on make up, did her hair and wore her best clothes. This tiny thing had reconnected her with being a woman and an individual which were things she had lost touch with due to having been a life source to we three for so many years.
After having this personal memory come to mind, I decided to try to give that feeling to each woman in a similar spot as my Mum in Calgary. To give them a boost by reconnecting them with being a woman and an individual and to show them, they have not been forgotten. Thus, Gems for Gems was created!
That first year in particular, would not have been possible were it not for Orangetheory South Calgary and it’s owners Matt and Reem Smolley. I had just moved to Calgary, knew almost no one when I came to them with this idea. They backed Gems for Gems from the start and have been there for us 100% of the way. Every woman touched by our programs have the Smolley family to thank.
Our first year we gave gifts to over 430 women… last year, over 550! This is such a beautiful testament to the community in Alberta and their giving nature. This year we are maintaining our commitment to Alberta and in addition to this, we are shipping over seas to Scotland, Slovakia and several provinces across Canada!
Our ‘Gems’ (our team of incredible volunteers) are crucial spokes to the Gems for Gems wheel. All programs and drives would not be possible without their endless support and selfless giving.
I would like to leave you with a heartfelt thank you to all of you who have participated, donated and even liked or shared on social media. None of this is possible without every level of support given. You all contribute to this movement.
Our current 2017 Jewelry Drive Campaign can be found here
Founder, Gems for Gems Canada