Because we believe a pretty package is just as important and fun to the recipient as the Bling Gift that is inside, we dreamed up the perfect presentation. When a cancer patient chooses their Bling Gift from one of our Bling Angels, their gift is then packaged and presented in a pretty faceted lucite gift box. The gift box is inserted into a white organza bag that has our printed story folded up and inserted inside the bag for for them to read about us. Also included is a laminated card that has our logo, contact information and the inspirational poem, "What Cancer Cannot Do..." It is a lovely presentation that is always well received.
Putting together the packaging takes time, a lot of time. I used to enlist friends to put stickers on the bottom of the boxes, fold the letters with our story and insert them into the organza bags along with the laminated cards. Hundreds must be ready at any given time. Our friends were fussing and commenting, "the bigger we get, the more we will have to do this." I would pour them more wine. Bill would make them steaks instead of burgers. And I'd order them to be quiet and keep sticking and stuffing! But bribery was getting old!
TO THE RESCUE - ECLC! Early on in Operation Bling's journey, Ann DiTullio, a teacher at ECLC, came into our store to ask me if I had any work for them. Oh man, did I ever!
The Education, Careers, and Lifelong Community is a private non-profit school located in Chatham, NJ. Their student population, ages 5-21, is diverse. Students are diagnosed with a wide range of disabilities, including autism spectrum disorder, Down syndrome, intellectual or medical disabilities.
Starting at age 14, ECLC students are prepared for life after graduation, through the SKIL (Seeking Knowledge for Independent Living) program. In dedicated Transition Rooms, students complete simple jobs and learn the soft skills of expected behaviors and attitudes in the workplace. They manage mailings, collate newsletters and create custom invitations, T-shirts, mugs, napkins, menus, and more. They even run the school lunch program. Operation Bling is considered an "employer" by providing tasks for the students.
These projects provide services for real customers and take care of student needs. After mastering the basics, students move out into the community to "sample" jobs where they experience anything from child care and retail to food service, maintenance and office administrative support.
ECLC teacher, Kathy Soden, works with her students throughout the year sticking and stuffing OBF packaging. Kathy even picks up and delivers our supplies at our store. The students take an immense amount of pride in their tasks, and Operation Bling is grateful for all of the work! To top it off, it doesn't cost OBF anything. OBF tasks are skills written into the ECLC curriculum. They are a not-for-profit and we are a not-for-profit. THANK YOU to the teachers and students of ECLC! BLING ON!