The tornadoes that swept through Lee County on March 3 left homes destroyed and took the lives of 23 people. Auburn’s community is banding together to help the victims through donations.
Natalie Hermes, senior in interdisciplinary studies, is doing her part by donating $14 from every necklace she sells to Saint Michael’s Catholic Church’s tornado relief.
Hermes has an online-only shop called She’s Made Precious on Etsy that sells religious medal necklaces. She has been making and selling them since she was a sophomore in college.
This is not the first time Hermes has donated proceeds to charity. She said she goes to Catholic conferences to sell her necklaces. Afterwards she donates portions of the money to the cause the conference is supporting.
Hermes also donates proceeds to an organization close to her heart.
“I give 10 percent of all my proceeds to a nonprofit called Baby Steps,” she said.
Baby Steps is an Auburn University organization that aims to empower pregnant students to continue their education by providing housing and support.
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After seeing the devastation the tornadoes brought to the Auburn community, Hermes began thinking how she could help.
“I was going to donate money to Saint Michael’s and give what I could, which is not very much as a college student,” she said. “Then, I started thinking about it, and I thought if I was just going to give $20, I might as well use my small platform to raise more than I could give on my own.”
Hermes said she hopes she is inviting those who may not have given or known where to give into this act of service through her jewelry.
Hermes hosted a pop-up shop at her house on March 4 to get the word out that for the entire week she will be donating $14 from each purchase made — whether it be on Etsy, at the event or by contacting her to reserve an order.
“I posted in GroupMes and on my Instagram to tell people about it,” she said. “Most of the money that was raised was from girls texting me they wanted to get one and to set one aside to pick up.”
From Monday’s event, about $300 was raised, and she is continuing to collect throughout the week.
Hermes said the idea to do this was very spontaneous.
“I was just in class and decided I should do this,” she said.
For this week, all Auburn locals who purchase from her get the necklaces at a $20 flat rate. Etsy buyers will not have the same discount, but regardless of the price, the same amount of money will be donated to the victims on all purchases.
“Normally my necklaces are $25 to $35, but for the Auburn community, I’m just doing $20 flat so that maybe more people would be inclined to buy one,” she said.
Saint Michael’s Catholic Church is doing a cash and gift card drive, which is what these proceeds are going to.
“They said that they were going to distribute gift cards to people who lost their homes or those who lost a loved one,” she said. “The money will probably go towards buying gift cards.”
Hermes’s necklaces can be found either on her Etsy shop or by messaging her through her Instagram.
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