What can be said about this past year that hasn't been spoken and written a million times? It has been incredibly challenging for all of us - some more than others. That is perhaps the hardest part... the stark inequities in our country and the world. It's something we think about a lot as we've tried to figure out our part in lending a helping hand.
There really was no way to prepare for the hardships of 2020. Like many of you, we took things as they came, adapted as much as possible, and did our best during so much uncertainty and need. We closed our studio, gave everyone extra sick days, poured candles in our kitchen and shipped from our stoop, purchased more from artisans and BIPOC communities, created gifts to brighten home offices, and did everything possible to enhance safety when the studio could reopen.
We also found ourselves taking a step back to find new ways to lean into our mission, support our candle-makers, and reach out to a larger community including healthcare professionals and vulnerable families across the U.S. At the close of every year we like to take a moment to reflect on where we are and Prosperity Candle's impact. This year there is more to share than usual, and much to be grateful for.
In April, we made the decision to give 25% of sales to Feeding America as food insecurity surged, then donated again in November when the lines at food banks across the country spiked again. Your purchases supported over 82,000 meals to people in need. And when the call for PPE went out in the early days of intense scarcity, we dropped off more than 2,000 protective gloves to a local hospital, along with candles for frontline visiting nurses.
In June we gave to Alight to support food, clean water and shelter for refugees worldwide amid the pandemic, and in October we were able to significantly increase our support for breast cancer research through donations to BCRF. This month on Giving Tuesday we donated 100% of net proceeds to the NAACP in support of equality, justice and empowerment for BIPOC communities.
All of this was made possible by you. You cared about our mission, purchased our candles and gifts, and shared our story with others. Our studio remains open because of you, and when your order was delayed due to supply constraints, you told us not to worry. For all of that and so much more, we are deeply grateful.
As a way of saying thanks, we thought we'd share some of behind-the-scenes images from 2020... like back in April when our co-owners were juggling between sewing masks and food shopping for elderly neighbors while packing and shipping from their own make-shift, home-based shipping room.
Or when we ran short of Happiness and Massage candles for Mother's Day, their kitchen was turned into a mini studio...
Needless to say, when we reopened the studio on May 19th we were thrilled to see our candle-makers back together, sharing stories and smiling through their masks. Everyone was a little nervous, of course... it seemed there was still so much unknown. Yet within a week we had adapted as we settled into new routines for keeping distanced and safe. Your kind messages touched us all.
In the fall we welcomed 4 new artisans to our team: Sabato, Madeleine, Fatuma and Zubeda. After facing many risks and hardships then fleeing their homes in the Democratic Republic of Congo, these courageous women sought refuge in nearby countries before resettling in the U.S. through UN and federal programs. They have found security and now are able to support their families and send their children to school (albeit virtually at the moment).
There is naturally so much more to say and share... all the moments of 2020 that span every emotion. It would fill pages upon pages, as we are sure yours would, too. It's been 12 years since Prosperity Candle and our mission of supporting women artisans from regions of conflict first came into being. And while this past year was in no way easy, and the months ahead are likely to bring new challenges, we are incredibly fortunate to be where we are.
Most of all, we want to recognize that you have made it possible for us to do more during a pandemic than ever before. And for that, we are beyond grateful. We feel hopeful 2021 will be a year of progress with more kindness, compassion and equality.
We wish you and everyone you know good health.
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