How awareness ribbons help us heal and hope

A lot of my day is spend discussing the dreams, goals, and the passions of my customers. Lapel pins are not a product like pencils, printer paper or file folders. They aren’t a necessity per say. When someone calls me to discuss a pin project, it’s a labor of love, whether that’s to recognize hard-working employees or to remember a fallen loved one with awareness ribbons. There’s sentiment in every pin order, and I’m always glad to be a part of that creative process. But rarely, if ever, does my involvement in a lapel pin last longer than the process of having it made. Then it goes out into the world and does its magic without me.

But sometimes the projects I help bring to life stay with me, and I stay with them, and those are the truly wonderful experiences that make my job one I love. One in particular deals with awareness ribbons. I received a call just about this time 2 years ago from a gentleman who was part of the community dealing with the horrifying, devastating loss of 20 children and 6 adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School. They were victims of a school shooting, and it was a story that had sobered the entire country, especially so close to Christmas.

What started out as a way to help his community heal, especially the family of one the victims, has turned into something so much more. Little green awareness ribbons proclaiming “Remember Chase” have found their way all over the country, and all over the world, and from that response has grown a charity. This charity supports health and wellness programs aimed at young children, which is a reflection of the passions that Chase had for sports and teamwork. These little awareness ribbons have built not only a legacy for one little boy who’s life was cut short, but they’ve also built futures for other children; hope and promise that might otherwise not exist.

On top of that, the gentleman who instigated this whole thing has become a very dear friend to myself and the entire PinMart team. He even made the long trek from Connecticut to Chicago to thank us in person for our help with the pins. That is a day that none of us here at PinMart will ever forget.

I never met Chase, unfortunately, but I think of him every day. I think about  good that one little pin has done, in response to an act of senseless violence. I’ve been given my own sense of hope from this project, restored faith in humanity, and for that I’m grateful.

So as the 2nd anniversary of the Sandy Hook shootings approaches, do all the things they tell you to do in response to situations like this: hug your kids, your loved ones, do something nice for a stranger, donate to a charity. And just remember, for all the horrible things that happen in this world, there’s a man like my friend out there to counteract that with love, hope, and lapel pins.

Visit the Chase Kowalski Fund to donate, educate, and participate.

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How to Honor Our Veterans

Each year, on November 11th, we honor all those who have served in the military. We honor and give thanks to those who have courageously fought to defend our nation and its freedoms – to those who live to tell the tale and those who have honorably perished in battle. While Veterans Day is a dignified day for remembrance and gratitude, honoring our Veterans should not be limited to one day a year. From all the struggles these men and women endured to all their acts of courage, it’s important that we honor them every day.
Here are some ways you can thank your Veterans for their service all year long:
• Say thank you  – If you see a veteran in uniform or wearing some sort of emblem that signifies he or she was in the military, then go out of your way to thank them. When you see a veteran at the airport or at the supermarket, simply walk up to them and say “thank you for your service.”  A simple thank you can go a long way. You can also express your gratitude by sending thank you letters and care packages to veterans.

• Help wounded veterans – According to the Wounded Warrior Project, 4 out 5 veterans have a friend who was seriously injured or killed in action. You can support wounded veterans through making donations or sponsoring a fundraising event. These funds go toward ensuring wounded veterans have the medical care and rehabilitation programs they need to recover and go on living their lives. You can also show your support through visiting wounded veterans in the hospital to show your appreciation for their service and Veterans pinsoffer your support.

• Support military families – While most people are aware that many veterans struggle to cope with post-traumatic stress when they return home, military families are also impacted by the trauma of war. According to a recent CNN report, many military families have contemplated suicide. Whether a military family has lost a loved one or not, it’s important that you show your support. With the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, veterans have gone through multiple deployments, which is emotionally stressful for the family. It also causes financial stress for relatives who care for their family member when he/she returns home from war. You can help military families by thanking them, listening to their story, donating to families that are struggling financially, and sending thank you cards and holiday care packages.

Wear a military pin – Just as pink ribbons are a motive to raise awareness for breast cancer, by wearing a military pin you can raise awareness for our veterans. Veterans pins area a great way to honor veterans and encourage others to support wounded warriors and military families. They also make a wonderful gift for veterans and their family members. By wearing a pin, they can express their pride and show they are a military veteran.
How will you honor veterans beyond Veteran’s Day?

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Appreciating Nurses Beyond National Nurse Week

It doesn’t have to be National Nurse Week for you to show your appreciation for nurses. Whether you’re a patient or a doctor, nurses deserve your appreciation year round. Nurses do a wide range of jobs that are all worth thanking them for. For patients, they watch over you and provide you with constant care. They monitor your progress to ensure your health improves. If you’re in the hospital, nurses work around the clock to deliver you your medications and treatments. If you’re not in the condition to care for yourself, they’ll bathe you, walk you to the restroom, and help you eat. Nurses also provide patients with the information they need to better understand their medications, medical exams, and health conditions. As for doctors, you would be unable to fulfill your duties without the help of nurses.

So, how can you thank your nurses for all their hard work and dedication?

• Nursing pins – Whether you are a physician or a patient, a great way to thank an exceptional nurse is through nursing pins. Pins can be worn on their scrubs as a constant Nursing pinsreminder of your appreciation. At PinMart, you can choose pre-made nursing pins or customize your own. PinMart has a wide variety of pins suited for all types of healthcare industries, including dental and pharmaceutical. With the holidays coming up, doctors should consider getting their nurses a special pin as a holiday gift.

• Thank you cards – A small thank you goes along way. If your nurse has helped you cope with a medical condition or regain your strength, you should thank him/her with a thank you card. Thank you cards can be handmade or purchased from a store. If the patient is a child, then they should consider a handmade card to make it more personal. Whatever kind of card you choose, write a personal message thanking your nurse for all he/she has done for you. For patients who are recovering from a serious health condition, write to your nurses every now and then to update them on your progress. They’d be happy to hear about how well you are doing.

• Awards – If you’ve had nurses who have gone above and beyond, nominate them for an award in their industry. Winning an industry award, such as The Daisy Award for Extraordinary Nurses or the ANA’s National Awards Program is very honorable. Your nurses will be thrilled that you took the time to think about them and nominate them.
How will you thank your nurses?

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What always gets me the most when I look at pictures of Veterans during their service, is that in the photos that are planned, ie, not during battle, so many of them are accompanied with big grins, hands raised in greeting, and in photos with more than one solider, a very clear sense of comradery, and even joy, shining out of the photos. These are the men and women who literally put their lives on the line so that someone like me can sit and type up blog entries at my comfy job, with no fear of attack, or restrictions on my personal freedoms. And they just BEAM out of those photos.

One such photo was donated to us by PinMart’s lead graphic designer, Genni. Her father was a member of the US Navy back in the 1960’s and the photos she has shared with me all seem to have that same sense of joy in them. That he could be so cheerful in a job that posed great risk to his life and in locations far away from home astounds and impresses me more than I can say.

Military Vets

George Rowe outside the Waccamaw in the early 1960’s while serving in the U.S. Navy

That our military vets did their job, and today’s soldiers continue this work, with such purpose and pride, as well as genuine happiness, fraternity and joy, makes me so proud of all they’ve done for our country, and continue to do now at home. Whether that’s working with the VA, other charities, or just as parents or grandparents, they are helping shape the next generations.

For all you’ve done and continue to do for this country, PinMart wants to thank each and all military vets, past, present, and future. THANK YOU! We value your service so greatly.

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Halloween Lapel Pins Keep the Office Festive

Halloween has always been just about my favorite holiday. As a little kid it was about going outside after dark and seeing the neighborhood transformed. It was, obviously, also about the copious amounts of candy that one could bring in in a single evening. But as I got older it became much more about the dress up. I loved the idea of getting to go out in public dressed to the furthest extent of my imagination (and my crafting skills) and seeing everyone else’s creative attempts.

As an adult, it’s not as easy to go all out on Halloween, what with working in a professional atmosphere. But much like my focus changed from candy to crafting as I grew up, my focus just needed to change again from dressing up myself to dressing up my office, and still adorning myself in work-appropriate ways.

Considering Halloween is a very unique, DIY holiday, it allows for everyone to Halloween lapel pinscelebrate exactly how they want, without needing to adhere to anyone else’s idea of Halloween. So some people put pumpkins and scarecrows up, others deck their cubes out with fake cobwebs and macabre grinning skeletons. Candy is handed out and shared, and there is pumpkin-flavored coffee in the break room.

As for dressing up ourselves, wearing orange and black lets you be festive without breaking business casual clothing guidelines. Halloween accessories are where it is at, really. Earrings, novelty socks and ties, and most certainly, spooky Halloween lapel pins can keep this holiday special without going overboard. It sure beats the awkward experience of trying to wiggle out of eight spider legs or your Wonder Woman leotard every time you need to use the restroom. Now THAT is scary.

Happy Halloween!

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Challenge Coins: Life Savers and Team Builders

In movies, 2014 is shaping up to be the year of military survival. Early this year, the movie Lone Survivor was released, and audiences reacted positively to the gripping true story. The movie depicts Navy Seal Marcus Luttrell who, with three other Seals, was dropped behind enemy lines in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan. The Seals’ mission becomes compromised when their location is stumbled upon by local Afghan goat-herders. The team of four had to decide whether to kill unarmed non-combatants or release them, knowing that they might notify the enemy of the Seals’ presence on the mountain. Sure enough, upon the shepherds’ release the Taliban were notified and began hunting in numbers vastly outnumbering the Navy Seals. The movie goes beyond the hunt and firefights and delves into the depths of human character and what man is capable of doing to survive.

The 2014 movie season will end with another story of incredible survival during warfare. In December, the movie Unbroken will be released, detailing the legendary life of Louis Zamperini. Zamperini was an Olympic track star in the 1936 “Hitler” Olympics held in Nazi Germany. During World War II, he served on a bomber that crashed into the Pacific challenge coinsOcean. He was ultimately captured by the Japanese and forced to endure excruciating and inhumane treatment that would break any normal man mentally or physically.

These stories of survival on the big screen remind us of the sacrifices and heroism that men in uniform serving the country have made over time. Another story, which has yet to make it to film (but which probably should have), is the history of the first challenge coins. During World War I, men of various backgrounds volunteered to serve and were drafted.

A wealthy member of an air battalion had coins made with the group’s insignia. He passed them out to the squadron and one pilot placed his coin in a pouch around his neck. The pilot was shot down behind enemy lines, yet made his way through the enemy territory and back into France.

Unfortunately, he was captured by a group of soldiers who suspected he was an enemy saboteur posing as a civilian. With no identifying papers, the American was about to be executed when he thought to show his captors his coin. One of the Frenchmen recognized the squadron insignia and the American was released and survived to tell his remarkable story. The term challenge coin was used because members of the military could ask for their coin to be produced to prove membership in a specific unit or branch of the armed services. Challenge coins became popular among members of the military and are still used today as a symbol of pride and membership for a particular group or organization.

Today, challenge coins can be personalized to reflect membership in any organization or military operation, but the sense of pride remains. And stories of military survival exemplify the courage of the men and women who serve every day for their country.

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Cancer Awareness – Who Knew that Ribbons could Help Save Lives?

Nearly every family is touched by cancer in some way. Roughly half of all men and a third of women will be diagnosed with cancer at some point in their lives. And for those not directly impacted, there will be a relative or friend who is stricken with the disease. Though scientists are working tirelessly to find cures for the various forms of cancer, they have not yet found success.

Still, there is a cause for hope, as treatments improve and awareness is at an all-time high. Indeed, for most of us who are not doctors or scientists, raising awareness and funding is just about the best thing that we can do to help the cause.

In every community there are people working in the name of cancer awareness. There are schools and groups that hold Relay for Life fundraisers, which are very powerful and moving events. In them, participants raise money (pledged by sponsors) by walking various distances. They may participate individually or form a team that walks in the name of a person diagnosed with cancer. The names of the cancer victims or survivors are written onCancer Awareness Ribbons luminaries that ring the walkway. This is a beautiful event that unites people touched by cancer directly or indirectly.

Another popular way to get people involved, raise some money, and spread the word is with cancer awareness ribbons. These days, most people have seen these ribbons in a lot of places – on signs, TV ads, cereal boxes, and even in sports stadiums – and there is a reason for that. The more that people are aware of the need for research, treatments, and screenings, the more these people will make the right decisions about their own health and well-being.

Many cancer awareness products are easy to wear, can be customized, and  made in an array of colors and sizes. This is an easy and simple way to spread any message in the fight against cancer. The ribbons can be sold to raise money in support of an individual battling cancer, their family, or for an organization involved in the struggle. Cancer awareness ribbons can also send positive messages of hope for those touched by the disease.

In the fight against cancer, awareness, funding, and hope can go a long way. PinMart carries an array of pins designed to highlight this worthy issue.

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Breast Cancer Awareness Infographic

Breast Cancer Awareness Infographic

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4 Ways to Raise Awareness during Breast Cancer Awareness Month

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Every October, millions of Americans attend awareness events and fundraisers around the country to increase awareness and raise money for breast cancer research. According to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, breast cancer is the second most common kind of cancer in women. About 1 in 8 women in the United States will develop invasive this cancer over the course of their lifetime. Despite these startling statistics, many women can survive breast cancer if it’s detected and treated early on. But, while most people are aware of breast cancer, few know how to detect the disease early on.

So, how can you help increase awareness and fundraise for breast cancer?

• Know the facts – The first step to increasing awareness for breast cancer is educating yourself about the disease. Inform yourself about statistics, symptoms and breast cancer foundations, so that you can spread knowledge about the cause and know where to donate.

• Encourage early detection – Women who have breast cancer have cancer cells forming in the tissues of their breast. The damaged cells can spread to the surrounding tissue. But, by detecting and treating the cancer early on, many women can survive and continue living a normal life. Based on their age and health history, all women should get screened for breast cancer. The American Cancer Society recommends women over age 40 undergo mammograms and clinical breast exams annually. Women in their 20s and 30s should get a clinical breast exam every three years. Once women reach their 20s, they should routinely conduct breast self-exams. Encourage your friends and family to consult with their doctor about a screening.

• Fundraise – Participate in an awareness event or race in your community. These eventsBreast Cancer are a great way to raise awareness and fundraise for the cause. The money you raise will to a foundation or charity aimed at finding a cure and providing mammograms and support services to women in need.

• Wear pink – Pink is the universal color for breast cancer. During the month of October, people all over the country will be showing their support by wearing pink shirts,  bracelets or pins. Sports teams show their support by wearing pink uniforms or displaying pink ribbons on their jerseys. Show your support for the cause by wearing breast cancer awareness items and encourage others to do the same.

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Tips For Planning The Best Awareness and Charity Campaign

Tips For Planning The Best Awareness and Charity Campaign

Do you want to do something to help a cause that you feel passionate about? If so, you aren’t alone. According to a study done by The Nonprofit Almanac and CNN, 70% of Americans give to charity each year and estimate that $666.1 billion is contributed to the country’s economy by non-profits. An awareness campaign can be helpful for educating others and furthering your cause, regardless of what it may be. Some people that are new to charity and event planning may be a little worried about planning their own awareness raising event, but with the right planning and resources you can have something great. When you’re planning your next awareness raising or cause oriented event, make sure you follow the below tips.

Timing is everything

Are you passionate about raising awareness for breast cancer? If so, you may want to hold your awareness event in October during National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Do you want to raise money to help support our troops or veterans? Hold your event around Veteran’s Day, Memorial Day, or the Fourth of July. Good timing can help make a difference between your event having a modest turn out to a lot of participation. See if there are any awareness months or weeks in the future, and plan around them.

Reach out locally

Do you have a favorite restaurant you like to eat at? Are you familiar with employees at some popular local businesses? These businesses may be willing to help sponsor your event. As we mentioned previously, there are a lot of people out there that want to give to awareness pinscharity and help others. Getting the right sponsorships can help provide food, prizes, or just plain old cash donations and helping hands. When you’re planning your event make a few phone calls and send a few e-mails. You never know who will be interested.

To get to the big picture, look at the little things

You have a big event planned out in your mind, but you have no idea how to make it reality. If you’re feeling stumped or overwhelmed planning wise, try to think about things on a smaller scale. Lets say you want your event guests to have something to take home, but you don’t know how to start planning. Reach out for donations of cash or prizes from local businesses for a raffle, and think about getting awareness pins or bracelets to give attendants. Once you think about things on a small scale, planning gets a lot easier.

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