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    Blog — Sparkle for a Cause

    PenGems + Soles4Souls Shoe Drive at the ATX Planner Retreat

    Everyone deserves a good pair of shoes

    On Saturday, February 18th, we'll have a PenGems Pop-Up Shop at the ATX (Austin, Texas) Planner Addicts Rainbow Dreams Mini Retreat. As part of our commitment to spread a little sparkle, we've partnered with Soles4Souls to host a shoe drive.

    You can donate old shoes, new shoes, red shoes, blue shoes, mens shoes, kids shoes, even those dressy shoes you don't wear anymore! We'll package them up and donate them to Soles4Souls.

    Why did we choose to partner with them? Since 2006, Soles4Souls has distributed 30 million pairs of shoes in 127 countries around the world. Over half of their distribution events occur right here in the United States.

    Watch the 3-minute video below to learn more about how they help, or visit them at www.soles4souls.org. 

    Sparkle for a Cause - National Breast Cancer Foundation

    This December, we will offer a limited-edition Sparkle for a Cause pen to benefit the National Breast Cancer Foundation. All proceeds from the sale of the Sparkle for a Cause pen will be donated to help this amazing organization. Read on the find out more about what they do.

    UPDATE: This Sparkle for a Cause has sold out! You've helped raise $5000 for the National Breast Cancer Foundation.

     

    National Breast Cancer Foundation Logo

     

    The National Breast Cancer Foundation (NBCF) is a dynamic organization that empowers women by offering them assistance and hope as they deal with breast cancer. Their founder, Janelle Hail, and her team work to serve and educate women about early detection and provide a variety of support services.

    Statistically, one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer at some point in their lives. Thanks to NBCF, lives are being changed and saved due to the services that they provide.

    To further understand the great attributes of this organization, you’ll need to understand the who, what, when, where and why of NBCF! They have a sincere desire to help others and make a difference in the health needs of women.

    Who They Are

    The founder, Janelle Hail, is a breast cancer survivor and she vowed to help others after her treatment was complete in the early 1980’s. She and her team diligently work to assist women struggling with treatments and diagnoses.

    What They Do

    NBCF provides a variety of services. One that they are particularly pleased to offer is free mammograms to women throughout the United States. They have partnered with a network of hospitals and to help educate women and make a mammogram possible without money being a concern.

    Further, they created and provide free programs designed to help women struggling with breast cancer. A few of the programs are:

    How You Will Make a Difference

    Every little bit helps when you are trying to provide for the, often expensive, health care needs of those suffering from breast cancer. Your money is spent wisely in order to assist as many people possible.

    In 2015, 85% of monies earned went to their life-saving programs. They cannot do this alone and depend on the support of others.

    The National Breast Cancer Foundation passionately serves, educates and helps women suffering from breast cancer by providing hope and encouragement. Your support helps to make their mission a reality.

    Visit their website at http://www.nationalbreastcancer.org/.

    Get your limited edition pen here: Sparkle for a Cause Limited Edition Pen

    Sparkle for a Cause - Mel's Story

    Guest post and photo by Melissa Nguyen.

    Sparkle for a Cause - Melissa Nguyen

    In July 2015, about 7 months ago, two words changed my life. Before I tell you what they were, maybe you can guess it from my little story.

    It was like any other typical day in July with the sun beaming and blinding the passersby. The summer air was so dry that your mouth begins to parch for a few droplets of moisture and with heat comparable to Hades' lair, draining the life out of you. Yeah, a typical day in July - or so I thought.

    "Your ANA titers1 showed positive, I think you should follow up with a rheumatologist," my doctor told me. Those words were the ones that I had been preparing myself to hear for 11 years. When I was 14 years old, my 11-year-old baby sister was diagnosed with Systematic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE), an autoimmune disease. The journey to this diagnosis was not an easy one. She had experienced facial rashes that was initially believed to be a sun sensitivity, intermittent high fevers resulting in headaches and vomiting, joint pain, and body swelling. It took several months, hospital visits, and specialist visits before lupus hit the marker and when it finally did, we had to buckle ourselves down for a whirlwind journey. I knew that I had a small chance of having it too so naturally in less than 30 minutes my mind raced towards Lupus. I had minor fatigue, dry mouth and sometimes the sun would hurt my eyes, but I didn't exhibit the typical lupus symptoms such as extreme fatigue, butterfly rash on my face, other skin rashes, swollen or painful joints, unexplained fever, or kidney problems. So what else could it be?

    Having seen all that my sister had been through, what my family had been through, I thought - what does this mean for my widowed mom? How do I tell her that her other daughter may also have a chronic illness? I needed a definite answer, so I went to look for one.

    After the rheumatologist appointment, a week, and a few more tests later, my answer came, but it wasn't what I was expecting.

    I was positive for Sjögren's Syndrome. My first thoughts were, "What is that? " and "Can I still have Lupus?" Then, “What does this mean for me now and in the future?” That very moment, my life changed. Tornado-scooping-Dorothy-to-the-world-of-Oz kind of change.

    So I did what anyone in today's society does, I Googled "Sjögren's Syndrome and Lupus." I found stories from others like me, living with Sjögren's and others like my sister, living with Lupus. Some had experienced the common symptoms of Sjögren's such as dry eyes and mouth; others had joint pain, extreme fatigue and digestive problems. Some were as young as 10 years old when they were first diagnosed, others were in their 60s or 70s. Each person was different in age, ethnicity, and gender, all with similar questions and concerns, all with words of encouragement and warmth to one another. Which was exactly what I had needed at the time and what I found encouraging every day as I relearn about myself. I learned to take my time doing certain tasks which now takes much more energy to do. Or how I need to remember to constantly hydrate to make my mouth and throat happy.

    Throughout this journey, I was lucky to have my sister to encourage me and really understand the changes I have gone through. Be it my sister or others with a different autoimmune disease, we are united by one phrase and two words:

    We are not defined by our disease. We are fighters and survivors.

    by
    Melissa Nguyen
    Instagram @nguyening.at.life


    Sparkle for a Cause PenGems will be available now, and the fundraiser will continue until sold out. 100% of the sale of each PenGem will be donated to the Sjögren's Syndrome Foundation and the Alliance for Lupus Research. Check back for updates, or sign up for the PenGems VIP newsletter here: http://penge.ms/GetOnTheVIPList.


    Footnotes:
    1ANA titers or antinuclear antibodies titers is a blood test used to evaluate a person for autoimmune disorders, most commonly used for Lupus. ANAs are a group of autoantibodies produced by a person's immune system when it is unable to tell apart its own cells versus foreign ones.