These days, many families are impacted by the devastating touch of cancer. Whether it be a sister or brother, friend or relative, the heartbreaking road fighting the battle can be long and difficult.
Angie (Chesla) Bogardus, a 1999 Cambridge-Isanti graduate, wanted to do something to add a little light to that dark road.
Homeless bags spur idea
While living in Colorado in recent years, Bogardus and her daughter had compiled bags of soap, toiletries and other necessities for homeless people in their community. They would hand them out while out and about running errands. Seeing someone in need, they would grab one of the pre-made bags.
The thought that she could do more than just these types of bags expanded from there. “I don’t really know where the idea came from, although I’ve had a few friends and family members with kids who’ve undergone (cancer) treatment,” Bogardus said. “I just knew there was a place that I could help.”
She moved back to Minnesota about a year ago and called around to a few hospitals like the Mayo Hospital in Rochester and St. Paul Children’s Hospitals to find out what the needs were of families facing childhood cancer.
“I wasn’t sure how, with our budget, I could do it,” Bogardus said, “So I started a fundraiser through my side job, Origami Owl, and it worked!”
Business helps raise funds
Origami Owl is an online custom jewelry company that uses designers to sell custom lockets via online ordering or in-home parties. When hosting one of these online parties, Bogardus would inform guests that a certain percentage of their purchase would be donated to a charity or fundraiser. “I would share the link with whomever I was fundraising for, and they would share it too,” she said. “I donated anywhere from 20-40 percent of the sales total to whichever charity, person or event I was raising funds for.”
People responded well to the easy-to-use system. “I donated over $1,200 in 2015,” Bogardus noted.
After completing more fundraising links through her part-time work at Origami Owl, Bogardus had raised enough funds to make at least 30 Chemo Care Bags for kids. Each bag is filled with $60-100 worth of goodies, all acquired through the generous donations of others.
Being a force for good
The chemo care bags distributed at the Mayo Hospital in Rochester were extremely appreciated by their recipients, according to Bogardus.
“I received an email from our contact at Mayo days after the bags were delivered,” she said. “He told me that people on the pediatric oncology unit were so excited for these unexpected gifts. These people have so much to go through, being able to give a bag with some age-appropriate activities, some new socks, a hat or two, and other goodies was a bright spot in what can be a very trying period for them.”
Bogardus said she tries to live by the mission statement of the company that has allowed her to give back to her local community, which is: “To be a force for good – to love, inspire and motivate people of all ages to reach their dreams and empower them to make a difference in the lives of others.”
Throughout it all, Bogardus has been amazed at the support of her fellow designers at Origami Owl, and most of all, by the generous donations that make it possible to give back to those in need.
“This project and those to come in the future are nothing without an amazing support system of family, friends and my Origami Owl sisters that I have,” she said.
If Bogardus has learned anything, it’s that, “We can make a difference in this world if we only just try,” she said. “I really hope that message is heard above all else. If you want to see more kindness in this world, you must put it there.”