Potholder LOVE: A fundraiser to help the Wes Leonard Heart Foundation get more AEDs in schools

 Potholder LOVE

Potholder LOVE

Hello! Welcome to the kickoff of the CraftSanity fundraiser to benefit the Wes Leonard Heart Foundation. Last spring I interviewed a Fennville girl for my newspaper column who was selling paintings to help a local charity raise money to get automatic electronic defibrillators (AEDs) into schools without them.

After we talked, I learned that my daughters’ school didn’t have an AED. While it’s unusual for kids to have heart attacks, it happens. It happened to Wes Leonard, a 16-year-old star athlete. Minutes have sinking the game winning shot on March 3, 2011, he collapsed during the post game celebration and died of sudden cardiac arrest. His story made national news and served as a wake up call to everyone who was thinking that something like this would never happen to one of our kids. The tragedy got people thinking, “What if?” and inspired his family to do a really beautiful thing in his memory: get AEDs in schools to save other kids.

His parents and friends started a foundation a month after he died and have raised funds to install 102 AEDs and certified about 900 people in CPR to date. After learning that my kids’ school did not have funds allocated to purchase an AED, I added the school to the AED waiting list last spring and was very grateful to meet Maria Flores from the Wes Leonard Heart Team when she came to our school and delivered an AED. 

The Wes Leonard Foundation gives AEDs to schools with no strings attached. They just require that there are CPR certified people onsite. They don’t require payment for the device, however, it didn’t seem right to take the device that costs the foundation $1,320 and not pay it back so they can buy another AED for a school without one. I attempted to do a small scale fundraiser within the school community, but it lacked momentum and generated less than $100. So my daughters, Abby, 9, and Amelia, 8, and I decided to take this effort to a larger craft community and I wrote a column about it in today’s edition of The Grand Rapids Press.


The girls and some of their school mates have been weaving up a storm to create lovely potholders out of recycled t-shirts. Moms are cutting the t-shirts into loopers and the kids are weaving them into beautiful potholders that measure about 7″ square. We’re selling them for $10 each in the hopes of raising $1,320 for the Wes Leonard Heart Foundation by Feb. 14.

The kids are weaving with recycled t-shirts and CraftSanity is covering the shipping costs, so all $10 generated by the sale of each potholder will go to the purchase of another AED for a school without one. 

Here’s how you can help:


To buy a potholder, send a $10 check made out to the Wes Leonard Heart Foundation to Jennifer Ackerman-Haywood, CraftSanity, P.O. Box 888192, Grand Rapids, MI 49588. I will send you a potholder and forward your check to the foundation. Please DO NOT send cash or write checks to me.

I will be posting more potholder photos in the coming days and the kids continue to weave. To reserve a particular potholder, please leave a comment below that includes your first and last name and the number potholder you want to buy. Potholders will be reserved for up to two weeks and then shipped after payment arrives. If you don’t specify a particular potholder, one will be sent to you at random. (Don’t worry, they’re all super cute.)

Donate your old colorful t-shirts: We’re going through a lot of t-shirts for this project, so get in touch if you have some to donate.

Thanks in advance for supporting this project. It’s so great to see elementary students crafting for a cause. Thank you for helping to empower them to make a difference in their community one potholder at a time.

Questions? Email me.

All the best, my friends. Let’s continue to craft positive change in 2014.



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