Local students sell rainbow looms to raise money for animal shelter

MARVIN – Two local girls are using the latest craze to make life a little easier for homeless dogs and those who help them.

It all started when 9-year-old Sammie Sileo took up a new hobby – making rainbow looms. An avid jewelry maker, Sammie decided to try her hand at making looms – bracelets made up of colored bands woven together. She introduced the craft to her friend, 9-year-old Abby Pfizenmaier, and the two girls came up with the idea to use their newfound hobby to support a charity.

“They’re really fun to make. I really like them,” Sammie, a third-grader at Hawk Ridge Elementary in south Charlotte, said. “Just selling them for charity, that’s just a great thing to do. And it’s fun, too.”

The girls juggled ideas and decided to reach out to a charity that helps homeless dogs, eventually settling on Paws in the Panhandle. Founded in 2010 and based out of Indian Land, S.C., Paws in the Panhandle is an adoptive-friendly shelter for rescued animals waiting for their “forever homes,” according to its website, www.pawsinthepanhandle.com. The organization also works to reduce euthanasia of adoptable pets within the community, the website says.

Abby, Sammie and their families chose to support the nonprofit because it’s a smaller charity that’s only about three years old.

“We wanted to help which (charity) was the most (recently founded),” said Abby, who attends Sandy Ridge Elementary School in Marvin. “We also heard they were smaller and probably needed more” than other charities, she added.

Toward the end of December 2012, Abby and Sammie began making the looms and by the first of the year, they were getting the word out about their project and encouraging friends and peers to help support the charity. The girls made several different types of looms and priced them at 25 cents, 50 cents and $1, depending on the size and design of the loom.

Pretty soon, things began to take off. Classmates were purchasing the looms, and word spread among fellow bus riders who wanted a loom of their own. Abby and Sammy also traveled through their subdivision, selling them to neighbors, and took some to sell to friends at Matthews Playhouse of the Performing Arts, where the two girls originally met.

They soon began to get requests from peers. Friends and schoolmates requested bracelets sporting their favorite hues, colors of their favorite sports team and more. Even boys started wearing them to support teams they either were a fan of or played on, the girls said.

Over the course of just a few months, Abby and Sammie sold an estimated 200 looms, raising $146 for Paws in the Panhandle. The girls credit their success not only to the popularity of the looms – which they both said are becoming the latest fad – but also to the fact that their product supported a charity.

“I’m like, ‘Whoa, we got that much money in not a lot of time,’” Abby said. “Lots of people are selling them for themselves and not making a lot of money. I was selling them for the charity, and more people went to me because it was a charity.”

The girls and their moms will meet with Paws in the Panhandle representatives on Monday, June 3, to deliver the money. They said they’d love to continue making the looms and selling them for another charity in the future, but right now they’re enjoying letting their accomplishments sink in.

“Selling 25-cents to $1 bracelets and earning $146, that’s really huge to me,” Sammie said.

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