|Messenger photo by Andrew Sharp|
|Reid Nickole Haller with a few of her crafts and the presents she bought with the proceeds.|
Decorating, shopping, and planning – Christmas preparation frenzy is in full swing. One Grove City middle-schooler has been preparing for Christmas since June. Reid Nickole Haller isn’t addicted to shopping, though. She makes and sells crafts so she can buy Christmas gifts for kids who don’t have as much.
Haller, an eighth grader at Pleasant View Middle School, started her project four years ago after she began to wonder how she would feel if she didn’t get any toys for Christmas.
"I used to get a lot of toys," she said.
She started out making simple crafts and collecting donations. It was a natural fit.
"All my life I’ve been into crafts," she said.
Her first year, she made about $75, and her first donations were to Toys for Tots. But she didn’t stop after that first year; beginning an endeavor she called "Buckeye Bangles for Babies."
With the help of her parents, Aaron and Theresa Haller, she branched out into other, more complex crafts, and has done it every year since. She now makes about $400 to $500 per year from the sales and one year raised more than $700. Her parents provide the money for supplies, so all the proceeds go to the charities of her choice.
This year, she bought gifts through Franklin County Children Services. She had enough money left over to buy 35 pairs of gloves for a hat and mitten tree at her school. After that, Theresa said, there was some left over that will probably go to the Mid-Ohio Food Bank.
Working on the crafts and collecting the donations is a months-long endeavor.
"It pretty much never ends," Haller said.
She often adds new items to her repertoire. The Hallers have about 20 buckeye trees on their property, so she can make buckeye necklaces. Her aunt got her started working with clay, so she rolls out a variety of clay crafts. Other items include bracelets and wreaths.
Most crafts are available for a donation of several dollars, and the wreaths sell for $10 to $20.
Haller doesn’t have an elaborate set-up for working on the crafts. Her workshop is the family living room, where she keeps totes and tubs with buckeyes, beads, and other paraphernalia. She has a roller that rolls the clay out evenly, an upgrade from the rolling pin she used to use. She cuts out her designs and then bakes them for two hours on low heat.
The Hallers have a fairly simple distribution system for the crafts. Aaron works at the main office at South-Western City Schools, and Theresa works at Monterey Elementary, so they make the items available there. They also rely on word-of-mouth. One local business, Broadway Design Group and Spa, also has a display. It’s effective, but now many people in the district have the items so the student keeps working on new designs.
There are even donors from out of state. Every year, Theresa said, a woman in South Carolina, who was originally from Ohio, puts in an order and they ship it to her.
"To be 13 years old and to worry about everyone else out there but herself, I don’t know where that came from," Theresa said, adding that she wasn’t like that when she was 13.
"We have been blessed," Aaron said.
Anyone interested in donating for some crafts can call the Hallers at 877-3761, or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.