WINTER SPRINGS, Fla. – A Central Florida woman is giving back to cancer patients by using thousands of colorful beads and lipstick.
Pam Sawyer founded Brighter Lips, Bigger Earrings in 2015 after her battle with breast cancer a year before. The idea for the name came after her first round of chemo in March 2014.
Sawyer, a retired English teacher, recalled the fear she felt prior to that first session -- but it was her nurse who helped her face that fear.
“Amy, told me ‘Pam, you’ll be just fine, as long as you wear brighter lipstick and bigger earrings’ and that’s where I got the idea for the name,” Sawyer said.
Since creating her nonprofit, she said the journey has been a rewarding one.
“It’s just been like another journey for me, another career, it’s just been incredible,” Sawyer said.
A journey joined by dozens of friends and volunteers who she calls her earring angels.
"We create together, we have fun together," she said.
Since making the first pair of earrings in 2015, already 68, 000 pairs have been made from Pam’s home. They have all been distributed to 27 infusion and chemo centers in Central Florida. Other pairs have been sent as far as Jacksonville, Tampa, Pittsburgh and Houston.
Each pair is made with love, appreciation and some confidence. From the dining room to the kitchen, each volunteer spends several hours putting together earring after earring and every design is a unique creation.
Volunteers also use jewelry that no longer serves its purpose.
Sawyer will use large pieces of beads that can’t be used to make earrings and instead makes Warrior Chimes, which is a long strand of colorful different sized beads with a bell at the end much like a wind chime. The Warrior Chime includes a tag with a message from Sawyer that reads: ‘Ring this warrior chime to share positive healing thoughts.’
The Florida native who was a teacher for Seminole County for over 30 years, also designs shadow boxes with donated jewelry.
“We sell them for between $100 and $200, depending on the size. All the money from these goes right back into buying supplies,” she said.
It takes an army of women to create these crafts, and they want those battling cancer to know they aren’t just there to make earrings.
“For someone going through chemo who might feel like nobody cares, we care and we are there and we want them to know that those of us who have been down that road before feel what they are feeling.”
This venture has grown so much, the organization is in need of a bigger space where they can work out of once a week, every other week.
To learn more about their mission, visit Brighter Lipstick, Bigger Earrings on Facebook.