Helping women with cancer is something that's close to Michelle Johnson's heart.
"My sister and grandmother died of cancer," said Johnson, an independent unit manager for Cookie Lee Jewelry, a direct-sale company, which donated more than $54,000 in jewelry to the Lydia Project in Augusta last week.
Johnson had helped with the Lydia Project, an organization that provides women with cancer a handmade tote bag filled with items such as a journal, hard candy, tissues and lotion.
When she learned her company wanted to help charities, she submitted the name of the Lydia Project.
Among the items donated by the California-based company are 800 flower pins, which area consultants placed in purple organza bags.
Purple is an important color for the Lydia Project. The organization is named for Lydia, who is mentioned in the Bible as a worshipper of God and a dealer of purple cloth. All of the tote bag handles are purple.
Also included in the donation were 4,000 pins shaped like children. Of them, 2,000 are designed like girls, and 2,000 are designed to look like boys. Those pins will be sold to help raise funds for the Lydia Project.
"We are very grateful to Cookie Lee. Touching lives of someone with cancer is quite a responsibility," said Laura Holder, of the Lydia Project.
Started more than two years ago, the Lydia Project has distributed about 1,000 tote bags to women with cancer. About 200 volunteers help in the project with duties ranging from cutting out the bags to monogramming them to praying for the women who will receive them, according to Amy Breitmann, one of the organization's founders.
Bags have been distributed to cancer patients as far away as England, she said.
Although a local organization now, the Lydia Project might someday become a national one. Organizers hope to teach people in other communities their concept.
"We've grown tremendously since the inception," Breitmann said.
Exposure in a recent edition of a magazine, Crossings, has generated some interest.
Holder said the first goal, however, is to cover the local area
The organization is hoping to expand into Aiken, she said.
For more information about the Lydia Project, call (706) 736-5467 or visit www.thelydiaproject.org.
For more information about Cookie Lee Jewelry, call Johnson at (706) 414-2063 or visit www.cookielee.com.
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