Citizen Soldiers

I love seeing people stand up straighter, extend a hand to shake, or even open both arms out wide in embrace, when they see a member of the military. In shopping malls, airports, on city streets, these gestures of thanks and gratitude warm me up as much as I hope they do the military men and women themselves. But something occurred to me when I was witnessing one of these moments recently: do the families of these brave soldiers receive the same welcome when they’re out and about? Chances are: they don’t.

Military families sacrifice in a different way than their loved ones all over the world in uniform, but their sacrifice is no less noble or challenging to deal with. These wives and husbands, children, significant others, brothers and sisters, have a constant fear and loneliness that no one should have to be burdened with. But they are also so proud of their1458 (1) loved ones that they carry that burden willingly, proudly, but because they do not wear a uniform themselves, they often carry this burden anonymously.

This is where I think lapel pins fit into the situation. (You had to know I was headed towards it, right?) If you know of family members of the a member of the military, make sure they have something to put on their jacket, their hat, the strap of their purse, proclaiming “My daughter is in the Air Force” or “My Grandson is a Marine”. These pieces, much like bumper stickers you sometimes see on cars when sitting in traffic, are the uniforms these families should wear so that we can recognize them in public, and then thank them for *their* service.

Every day tasks, every day life, is drastically different for the families of military members. The constant worry, the pride, the sacrifice and the loneliness are battle wounds that these people tend to every day, and if and when I recognize these individuals in public, whether it’s from a t shirt proclaiming “Army Mom” or lanyards or lapel pins distinguishing them as one of these brave family members, I always make sure they know that I’m thankful for *their* sacrifice, as well as their son, sister, or husband. They too are paying a hefty price for my freedom. Thank you to *all* who serve: here, there, and everywhere.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Remember November

November is upon us. Time to spend more time indoors, warm, spending time with family, old and young. We honor our servicemen and women on Veteran’s Day in November. We take the time to listen to our elders, whether or not they participated in war, and learn S802from them. So it seems fitting that November also recognizes and casts a spotlight on Alzheimer’s Awareness. As the sixth leading cause of death in America, it effects the lives of millions of Americans, both with the disease, and loved ones of those suffering.

Research for a disease like Alzheimer’s is a time consuming, meticulous process, with medication to reduce or eliminate the effects of the disease taking upwards of 10 years to build, test, and release to those in need. But the time and money it takes to create these medications is nothing compared to the cost of currently handling those with Alzheimer’s, which tops $1.2 trillion. Numbers like that put the cost of awareness ribbons to support the cause into perspective.

Alzheimer’s is a disease that robs both old and young of a life, and memories, that are priceless. Rendering formerly sharp, independent people of their self-sufficiency, this disease also takes its toll on family members who devote endless hours caring for their loved ones. It’s for people like that that awareness ribbons benefit too: by showing your support and thanks for their often thankless services to family and friends.

The holidays are about family, friends, and creating new memories. And Alzheimer’s awareness month is about helping save those memories, and keep families together. No matter why you pin on awareness ribbons during this month, just know that it’s undoubtedly the right reason. Because there isn’t a wrong reason to support those in need.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Keeping the Weeeee! in Halloween

Halloween is one of my favorite times of year. The scary, the silly, the creativity, everything about this holiday is pure fun. And that’s easy as a kid. You’re encouraged to dress up, to play pretend, to decorate and participate, but the older we get, the less we celebrate things like this. Sure, you’ll have a few people who keep the tradition, and those are the best houses for kids to trick or treat at, the ones where the adults are still big kids at heart. But even for those of us who haven’t given up on the childlike fun of holidays like Halloween, it’s not always going to be appropriate or possible to wear that amazing Marie Antoinette ball gown into the office for Halloween. So what’s to be done?

Adapting our flair for the dramatic to work in all sorts of settings is not impossible, and can10091 (1) even be fun. Decorating your cubicle at work with fall and Halloween decorations, obviously after getting permission, is a great way to go about things. Putting a bucket of candy out for coworkers to snag a piece out of on Halloween is another fun thing to do, to get others into the mood without their needing to do any of the work themselves! And of course, if dressing up in a big way is going to be an issue, small but fun pieces like Halloween lapel pins and other jewelry make great alternatives. Spiders, skulls, witch hats and pumpkins all set the tone without having to worry about anyone tripping over your tail, or how to sit down in a suit of armor to answer emails.

Trying to get the whole office involved isn’t a bad idea either, if you think they’re receptive. Luncheons with Halloween-themed dishes and desserts is a great idea. Trivia contests with candy and spooky lapel pins as prizes is another good one. And if your office is on board, doing cube decorating contests can create a great atmosphere and a healthy sense of competition.

No matter how you go about it, holidays like Halloween, Christmas, Valentines and St. Patrick’s Day can still be fun, no matter how old you are. As long as you’re a kid at heart, there’s always a way to make sure your inner child is entertained.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Having the Right Tools to Organize Your Next Fundraising Event

We’ve all heard the phrase, “It’s better to give than receive.” The basic message is that the satisfaction and joy in your heart that you have after giving something to someone in need will far surpass whatever gift you could ever want. It’s a very popular sentiment around this time of year. It’s probably more than a coincidence then that a number of different organizations hold fundraising and other philanthropic events during the Holiday Season. If you’re in the middle or are still in the planning stage of your next fundraising event, here are several things to keep in mind:

Create a Committee and Appoint a Chairperson: A committee can get the ball running and help your event get off the ground. They can help establish those all important questions of who, what, when, where and how. In addition, when setting up your committee, make sure there is a chairperson or point person, so people know who to turn to for questions and concerns.

Secure Corporate Sponsorship:  Because there are so many other fundraising events going on at the same time, the competition to get the best ones will be very tough. Therefore, you need to be prepared to answer questions about the theme of the fundraiser, why support is needed and who the event will reach. In addition, make sure to have different sponsorship levels to further encourage sponsorship.

Go Green: When it comes time for invitations and announcements, it might be a good idea to consider enacting a green initiative.  Paperless invitations are a good idea – as are announcements through social media, email blasts and other green means.  Green marketing can help you reach a great audience in a short amount of time, and you’ll be fullcolorlanyardpreventing further harm to the environment.

Support your employees with neck lanyards: On the day of the event, it could get quite chaotic. Therefore, you need to have the tools in place, so your employees and volunteers can maintain control to secure a successful event. An easy way to encourage organization is through neck lanyards. Neck lanyards allow supporters and invitees to see who is working the event, and at the same time, provides ample opportunity for promotion of the event.

By doing these among many other things, you can ensure that your holiday season fundraising event is a success. Contact Pin Mart today to learn more about neck lanyards and other promotional items.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Survival of the Fittest

PinMart does a lot of work with military pins. Veterans pins, patriotic pins, active duty military pins, you name it. We do unique coins for military organizations and we have plenty of stock options for the military enthusiasts out there. But there’s a difference between creating pieces that honor the military, and creating pieces that *are* military. So I’m pretty stoked to announce that PinMart has officially started selling paracord bracelets!

When I was told about this, I caught the excitement pretty instantly because, well, that sounds pretty cool: paracord bracelet. But of course, after a moment, I had to ask the inevitable question: so what *is* a paracord? To save you all having to google it yourselves1548 if you’re not familiar with it, paracord bracelets were created during WWII when paratroopers would weave extra parachute cord into bracelets to be worn during flights. These would be used in any number of ways other than on their parachutes though, everything from repairs to fishing to actually pulling people to safety.

This practice has now become popular outside of just military culture though, showing up in sporting good and survivalist stores all over the country, as campers, hikers and other outdoor enthusiasts find paracord bracelets just as useful as their paratrooper predecessors (say *that* five times fast). And as a company devoted to military men and women, and their culture, PinMart was eager to get involved as well.

And while I’m not exactly an extreme hiker, biker or sky-diver,  with the diverse colors and awareness causes we’ve tied into these paracords (pun intended), folks like myself can wear them for their asthetic or philanthropic benefits as well as for traditional survival purposes. And heck, if someone sees me wearing it and confuses me with an extreme outdoors-man, so be it.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Thumbs Up for Down Syndrome

I was talking with a friend of mine the other day. She just recently had her third baby, a little girl named Lumina. She’s perfect, beautiful and curious, and you fall in love with her the moment you meet her. She also happens to have Down Syndrome. One in ever 691 babies are born with it. My friend was not aware her little girl had Downs until after she was born, but the moment she was, she was without flaw in her mother’s eyes. And that’s how she’s going to be treated her whole life: complete, unique, perfectly Lumina.

It’s experiences like the ones I’ve had with Lumina and her mother that make me doubly proud that PinMart is the official supplier of promotional products for the NDSS (National1132 Down Syndrome Society). Every time you purchase Down Syndrome lapel pins or lanyards, we give more than 7% of those sales towards the NDSS to help them fund programs, research and outreach to families across the US raising children with Downs. And let me tell you, that adds up.

A lot of people don’t understand what I do for a living when I tell them I create and sell lapel pins and other awareness products. They think I either sell jewelry, or that it’s just event swag. Honestly though, what I do, at least in part, is promote hope. Corny perhaps, but I like to think that’s true. Hope for a cure for cancer, hope for a better future for children with Downs, hope for the next generation with graduation pins. At the end of the day, whether that’s a pin, or a new drug breakthrough, or anything else, it’s not a bad way to make a living.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

What are Some Ways to Honor Veterans on Veterans Day?

On November 11th, Americans will be celebrating another Veterans Day, honoring those who have served in one of the branches of the military. According to the Department of Veteran Affairs, there are roughly 23 million veterans of the WWII, Korean War, Vietnam War, Gulf War, and Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan service time periods.  These are courageous individuals who have gone to hostile environments all over the world to defend our way of life, and it is a day in which they should be honored. Here are some things to know about the day:

  • Many people confuse Veterans Day with Memorial Day. The difference between 517new (1)the two is that Memorial Day only celebrates those who died in battle. Veterans Day, on the other hand, honors all veterans.
  • It was not always celebrated on November 11th.  From 1971 to 1978, Veterans Day was celebrated on the fourth Monday of every October. Due to public demand, the holiday was moved back to November 11th; however, if the holiday is on a weekend, it’s observed the following Monday.
  • The day was first formally made a holiday by Woodrow Wilson. It was in accordance to Remembrance and Armistice Day holidays, which honored the peace time that was created from the armistice with Germany after WWI. It wasn’t known as Veterans Day until 1954.

If you’re still unsure of what you can do to honor the veterans in your life or just veterans in general, here are few ideas that can make a veteran smile on their day:

Make a donation: Unfortunately, many of our veterans do suffer from physical/ mental ailments, which can be burdensome financially. Making a cash donation to a telethon or organization that supports our veterans is a very effective way to help those in need. If you can’t afford a cash donation, clothes and food items are certainly welcomed as well.

Give a pin: Pins with the symbols that mark the particular branch of the military that you wish to honor is an effective way to honor the strength and courage of a particular serviceman. For example, if you know a veteran of the Navy, a Navy pin is fitting gift for them on this day.

Visit a vet: Do you want to hear a great story? Talk to a vet. There are many vets in nursing homes, psychiatric facilities and hospitals who may not have many people in their lives. By visiting one of these servicemen, you’ll honor their time served.

Happy Veterans Day to all the Vets Out There and Thank You!

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Sorry, we’re closed!

No matter who you ask, today is a good day to take a side. For the third time in my lifetime, the government has… closed. Closed? That’s such a weird concept, and yet, it has. Shut its doors, shut down National Parks, shut down a large part of Washington D.C. Closed. And it’s over a fundamental, very distinct difference in opinion between democrats and republicans concerning health care reform in our country. And I’m not going to talk about what I think and why. There are thousands of blogs out there for that. I’m actually concerned, for the sake of this blog, more with the way branding plays a role in how we got here.

When you brand your business, you want to set yourself apart from the competition. Be that with lower prices, better service, more perks, even little things like later/earlier hours, or free swag at the door like lapel pins. You work hard to keep that distinction clear,767 and to prevent any ambiguity between yourself and your competitors. It’s a desirable place to find yourself in: everything your competition isn’t, in every beneficial way. Well, that’s what congress has done.

In the past three or four elections, politics has become increasingly polarizing. Arguably since the 1960′s it’s been so. Regardless, republicans have moved further to the right, democrats to the left, and a moderate on either side is considered a traitor to both and either has to pick an extreme or perish. In a sense both parties have been branding themselves, working very hard at it. They want to be everything their competition isn’t. They don’t want the American public to just vote, they want every American to be registered red or blue, to have their lapel pins, their talking points, and their fighting spirit on hand at all times. But what I think has escaped people is that, unlike business branding, politics isn’t about extremes: it’s about compromise.

Some claim government and business are almost interchangeable. I would argue that if they are… they shouldn’t be. Branding has its place. Polarizing oneself from the competition has an important role to play. My company helps other businesses make that branded distinction. But in politics, as cool as the lapel pins are… compromise and progress are so much better.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Pay it Forward

I’m having one of those days. You know the ones. Almost late for work, forgot an important item at home, got a stain on your bright white shirt, watching new voicemails flood your phone as you listen to old ones… just no way to get ahead. One of those days where everything is going to miss the mark. We’re all entitled to them, sure, but that doesn’t make it any easier to live through. But I’ve discovered a great way to perhaps see the forest through the trees. Paying it forward.

It’s a concept we’re all familiar with: you’re in line at the grocery store, cart piled so high it looks like you’re going into hiding for the whole winter, and you notice the person behind444-1 you with a single carton of milk. You pull back and let them go in front of you. You saved them time, made a small part of their day easier, and paid it forward. It’s easy, but not always easy to remember to do in the midst of your day to day. So I was very excited when we started producing Pay It Forward rubber bracelets. Like other awareness bracelets, but for a whole different genre of people. For givers.

It’s on days like today, when my head is full of grumbling and grousing, when I’d rather just get buried beneath my trivial issues, that paying it forward is most important. And hardest to remember. Wearing one of these rubber bracelets, and giving them away to others, friends or strangers, can help us all get out of our own heads a little bit, look around, and see the forest for the trees. See the little kindnesses we can do for each other.

In fact, getting a few extra rubber bracelets to hand out to complete strangers could be exactly how you pay it forward. A gift from a stranger, a positive message, passing along a smile. It’s the little things that make the biggest impact on days like this.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Gone but Not Forgotten

I don’t know about you, but I get antsy when one of my loved ones is even 15 minutes late for anything. I start the line of texting and phone calls to check up on them, to make sure they either just got side-tracked, or lost, and not something more serious. I’m sure I’m not alone in that. And it’s always a relief to hear their voice on the other end of the phone explaining that they just took a right instead of a left, and that while late, are on their way. For families of POW/MIA service members, there is no phone number to reach them at, and no reassurance of their loved ones that they’re “on their way.”

Today is National POW/MIA recognition day. It’s estimated that since WWII over 83,000 service men and women have been labeled POW or MIA. That’s a lot of American families who will have the gut-wrenching experience of not knowing when, or if, their loved ones will ever pull up into the driveway ever again. It’s a fear I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy, so on days like this, and honestly, every day, it doesn’t hurt to recognize these families and their struggles with things like awareness ribbons and lapel pins.

Thankfully there are organizations that work with families and the countries where their loved ones were stationed, to shed light on the unanswered questions and in some cases, bring them home. It isn’t always a happy ending, and sometimes the best outcome is a resting place, but occasionally these service men and women are returned alive and it is also for them that myself and others wear POW/MIA lapel pins. For the successes and not just the tragedies. For hope, and not just for consolation.

On a personal note, I just want to thank the families of these POW/MIA members. These soldiers and their families are paying the ultimate price for my freedom, and I can’t begin to convey my gratitude. You’re truly heroes.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment