Haiti’s horrifying earthquake has left near-apocalyptic devastation in its wake. It’s hard not to feel helpless while reading about the endless loss, the dire situation and the scale of reconstruction efforts to come. Many Etsy sellers have graciously opened their hearts by sharing their their skills and earnings for charity. One of the more ambitious collective shops is HeartsforHaiti. More than twenty sellers are running the operation and countless others have donated their work to the shop.
How did HeartsforHaiti come to be?
On Wednesday night, so completely saddened and defeated by the tragic earthquake in Haiti, I was trawling the internet and reading horrific accounts of the devastation. Having no money to donate, I was feeling helpless and desperate to do my part. I thought about how I might be able to use my craft to help but realized quickly that I couldn’t make much of an impact on my own.
I remembered hearing of charitable Etsy shops and headed over to the Forums to see if there was anything starting up. Though lots of people were talking about ways to help I didn’t see anything about a dedicated shop, so I started a new Forum thread. The response was immediate and incredibly inspiring. So many amazing people stepped up to help in all of the many ways that were needed and throngs of Etsy sellers offered up amazing items. I got swept up in all of the camaraderie and the amazing spirit of charity, and before I knew it I was well on my way to opening a shop!
How does HeartsforHaiti work?
It may sound corny, but Hearts for Haiti is truly run on 100% volunteer love. Donations are sent to a central email account where one of our four inbox volunteers are always available to field them. From our inbox, donations are sent to our many listing volunteers, who in turn add them to the shop. The secret to the success of this system is that we have volunteers all over the world and in very different time zones. We’re able to cover things pretty much around the clock without anyone losing too much sleep.
We generally have at least two people in the shop throughout the day to handle a constant stream of Convos. One of our volunteers handles all of the shipping notifications for sold items and others work on leaving feedback for buyers. We keep it all together by communicating regularly via Skype, email and Forum threads. It’s really been a remarkable act of community, with all of us learning the ropes together and achieving something truly amazing.
How can Etsy sellers get involved?
I want to stress that, though I wrote that first Forum post and am ostensibly “in charge,” Hearts for Haiti is really a collective of many Etsy sellers. There are currently 20 sellers who are working together to run the shop, many more who are lined up to help and who are doing an amazing job promoting the project, and countless sellers who have donated so generously.
We will continue to accept donations indefinitely and Etsy sellers can go to our Shop Policies for guidelines on how to donate. We are featuring heart items until Valentine’s Day but will accept donations of any sort. We’re also looking for more sellers to help with listing, answering Convos, writing on our blog, leaving feedback for buyers, and many of the other day-to-day tasks of any Etsy shop.
What charities does the money go toward?
100% of proceeds, after Etsy and PayPal fees, are sent to Doctors Without Borders (Medecins sans Frontieres). To date we have raised over $21,000 for this amazing organization!
Who are the sellers donating items? Are they from all over the world or just specific Etsy teams?
Over 2,500 items have been donated by generous Etsy sellers from more than thirty countries around the world. We include the donating shop’s name and location at the top of each listing and we always have fun seeing which items come from where. Any Etsy seller is welcome to join in.â€¨
[Felted heart by SandhraLee]
At what point does the project end?
We have not boxed ourselves in with a specific date. The need in Haiti will be ongoing. We will ride the waves of this adventure and reevaluate our effectiveness periodically.
How would you sum up the project?
Hearts for Haiti is about community. It’s about using what we’ve got to help our neighbors in need. It’s a way to give back. It is an opportunity for someone who doesn’t have the funds for a monetary donation to use their skills to knit a cowl, piece together a quilt, hammer out a bit of copper into a bangle, or to buy a lovely bit of handmade or vintage, and open their hearts for Haiti.
Any final thoughts?
None of this would be possible without the amazing and unique global community that was already in place at Etsy. Thank you!
Once an aspiring librarian, Victoria has combined her love of books with her love of fabric and stitching to create cloth books, quilts and appliqued art for children and adults in her Etsy shop, exlibrishandmade. She lives and works in downtown Albany, New York with her partner and two kids.