Guest post and pictures by Team 4 (and Team 5!) member Suzanne:
"Last year, as part of Team 4, I was involved in an effort to bring the kids of SMK (through the incredible generosity of the Mother Bear Project and many knitters from around the world) 180 teddy bears, handmade with love. I carried to Uganda two very large duffel bags brimming with the bears, which were personally signed by the knitters themselves. (See pictures of the kids with their bears here.)
As a fortunate member of Team 5 for this year's December journey, I began to think, what can I do this year? I came across a magazine filled with handmade crafts, and there was a ‘button bracelet’ idea on page 31. I thought they looked like fun, they’re colorful, they use old and new buttons and are small enough to transport to Uganda. We could even make some in December as an art project. I ran the idea by Gloria, and she gave me the thumbs up, but there was one small obstacle: I needed help - and lots of it.
I thought about who I know who loves to make things, is creative and enjoys the idea of kids helping kids. My friends Molly (16), Libby (13) and Mary Sue (Mom) Protz were the first to come to mind. While at Mary Sue's for dinner one night, I brought the magazine with me, showed the ladies the idea, and it was an instant, ‘of course, we'll help!’ They were on board.
I have known the Protz family since I moved to Wisconsin 22 years ago. They are family to me. Molly was adopted from an orphanage in China and Libby from Korea. Both girls had asked me before I left for Team 4's trip if they could have pen pals from SMK. Issy & Molly and Rose & Libby are now pen pals. This is an incredibly generous family and has been involved with CTT ever since I first told them all about the foundation, Gloria and the kids. They all wanted to do something. Molly's friends from high school are writing letters to the kids for me to take to SMK in December. For her English class she had to pick someone who has accomplished humanitarian acts of kindness; she asked Gloria if she could interview her for her speech (she got a B+!). Their mother, Mary Sue, belongs to a knitting group and asked if she and the ladies could make hats for the kids (more on that later). Libby, a master bead maker, lent her tools and expertise to the rest of us novice button makers.
We had our first button making party complete with pizza and lots of laughs. Our output, at first slow with buttons falling on the floor every which way, quickly picked up as we mastered the art of button making and ended the night with 15 bracelets of various colors, sizes and shapes. We have many more button bracelet parties to go, but we will have 100+ bracelets by December, we promise."
-Molly, Libby, Mary Sue and Suzanne