Wrapsody raises cancer awareness through "Hope Floats" campaign

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Wrapsody released 600 balloons Friday, wrapping up its month-long campaign to raise money for the cancer center at East Alabama Medical Center.

The gift store asked for $2 donations from customers in memory or honor of someone affected by breast cancer. Each donor filled out a card to be tied to a balloon.

"It's amazing how many people want to just do something small in honor or memory of someone they lost or someone going through it right now," said Sarah Brown, co-owner of Wrapsody.

The store, which partnered with Zeta Tau Alpha sorority for the event, raised more than $500 and is taking donations through the end of October.

This is Wrapsody's second year for the "Hope Floats" campaign.

Last year, funds went to a family affected by breast cancer in Hoover, but this year, they wanted to keep it local, Brown said.

Mayor Bill Ham, who attended the balloon release, said the city supports Wrapsody's effort to save lives.

"I applaud the owners and everybody that volunteered to make a difference," Ham said. "That's what makes this community great. Having local small businesses that are willing to give back and make a difference is a story all its own. They could've saved several lives today."

The cancer center provided 55 free mammograms for women without insurance Friday. Any donated money is used to provide this service, according to Colleen Alsobrook, breast health center navigator at EAMC.

Alsobrook said she is appreciative of the store's efforts.

"It's great to have people wanting to reach out," Alsobrook said. "They contacted us about this event, and it's just great and overwhelming."

Auburn resident Beth Smith donated in memory of her mother, whom she lost to breast cancer.

"They should do this every month, not just in October," Smith said. "A lot of people don't take it seriously, but it doesn't just affect older women--it can happen to young girls as well. Wrapsody reaches younger and older women, so it's a great place to get the message out."

Wrapsody sees a range of customers every day, which contributed to the campaign's success, said Kadie Crowell, Wrapsody event coordinator.

"You see customers every day that have either been through it themselves or have been touched by it," Crowell said. "You see college girls whose moms have gone through it, grandmothers who are survivors. Cancer doesn't discriminate, unfortunately."

The response was significantly higher this year, Crowell said.

"There were a lot more people that actually knew about the event and just looked forward to it this year," Crowell said. "Teaming up with EAMC made a difference, too, because local survivors were more involved."

Wrapsody also works with Big Oak Ranch in Birmingham and participates in the Adopt-a-Child program during Christmas.

Brown said they are always interested in looking for any way to be involved and give back to the community.

"We want to be more than just a gift store," Brown said. "Our motto is 'A Celebration of Giving.' It's not always about buying presents; sometimes it's about something more meaningful and special."

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