“Jewelry has the power to be the one little thing that makes you feel unique.”-Elizabeth Taylor
More than 3,000 nearly new pieces of jewelry went into cellophane packages for the 2019 Pursonalities Plus charitable project.
Pursonalities Plus started in 2016 when two generous friends, Jane Bickelman and Sara Sanchez, decided to support Albuquerque women who found themselves in challenging situations and needed a little extra love.
The premise revolved around gift purses filled with toiletries, scarves and gloves. The two approached retail boutiques as well as women of influence whom they knew and found a warm reception. During the first year, 180 purses were delivered to organizations with established programs addressing a multitude of needs for women and their families.
Unexpected jewelry personalizes essentials, uplifting both the gift and its recipient. The season of giving encompasses movements of all shapes and sizes. A label on one of the nearly 900 jewelry packages says this:
Over the years, the charitable project called Pursonalities Plus grew, taking on a life of its own, and providing 1,037 purses to organizations in 2017.
In 2018, the group provided 1,555 filled purses to these organizations. For the first time, jewelry was added. The results were heartwarming.
In an effort spearheaded by Mary Ellen Merrigan and Jan Cunningham, approximately 100 “sets” of gently used jewelry were presented in the gift purses.
“During the first two years I was part of Pursonalities Plus, my friends from various circles had given numerous purses to this cause. Jewelry opened a different giving opportunity, one closely connected to my heart.”Mary Ellen Merrigan
In what seemed like a stretch goal, Mary Ellen and Jan decided to gather “at least” 500 packets of jewelry for the 2019 effort.
At the season’s conclusion, nearly half of the collected purses had a jewelry component, with 890 jewelry packets being delivered.
Stories behind the jewelry additions tug at heartstrings. A woman (Steph) who saw Jan purchasing a jar of bangle bracelets at Savers got her church involved. Other volunteers gathered pieces from relatives, living as well as passed: Aunt Helen, Violet, and Virginia for instance.
Customers who knew about Mary Ellen’s propensity to create, donated beads and maker days evolved.
Women who heard about the project brought costume jewelry to lunch, to meetings, and to other events. Friends from nearby and friends from other cities got into the act. Flo from Phoenix mailed a box of handmade fleece scarves monthly.
Bags of old jewelry and broken components found their way to Jan and Mary Ellen. One time a box with more than 200 bracelets was mailed to them sight unseen. The duo developed a weekly system to sort, repair, embellish and deliver packaged donations to Jane and Sara.
Dozens of boxes with cellophane packets nicely stacked were delivered to Pursonalities Plus. When a contributor and volunteer Lisa Cummings heard about the need for labels, she printed an entire packet of them for the project.
Throughout the months, Jane kept all volunteers posted with updates such as this:
“Thank you to each of you who have been so supportive in contributing and volunteering; we are on the home stretch! Please pray for the ladies who will be receiving these gifts – that they will find joy in receiving our gifts and find peace and hope in their lives.—Blessings, Jane Bickelman
“Please pray for the ladies receiving the purses and the CNM students receiving the backpacks – that they will find joy in receiving the gifts and find hope and peace in their lives.—Blessings, Jane Bickelman
Charitable project expands
The 2019 collection timeline spanned the year requiring perseverance for participants to work through life events: hip replacement, hospitalizations, course work, and more.
It elicited gratitude for the generosity of friends and strangers, the connections that seemed to evolve effortlessly, and the donations that kept on coming.
It brought a sense of possibility and a commitment to continue the project during the new year with its upcoming decade.
Would you like to be a part of this effort? If so, please contact Mary Ellen. We’ll add you to the list and let you know about upcoming 2020 Maker Days.
Shortly after this post published, Pursonalities Plus concluded its 2019 effort with a total of 1,773 gift purses of which 890 contained a jewelry packet.
“Sara and I are blessed, ecstatic and tired as we have completed our 4th year of Pursonalities Plus ABQ. This year we donated 1,773 purses and backpacks for Christmas to 27 organizations serving deserving women and students. God touched the hearts of many, and our donors and volunteers carried us to the end. As the organizations have their Christmas parties, more will be posted. We are praying that each person receiving a gift will know that someone in the community cares about them, but more importantly that God loves them.”-Jane Bickelman