Photo: Izzie (Isabella Ferrando) on the left, JJ (JJ Ham) on the right, both 15
Sweethearts, friends, gift givers, and changemakers give a gift that transforms lives with a purchase from Iz and JJ’s Bracelet Fundraiser!
Izzie and JJ, two friends from New York City, don’t wait for special occasions like Valentine’s Day to share the love. The two friends make a real difference daily through their fundraiser Iz & J’s. The duo both agree that some of the best gifts in life give back, and they are raising money for students in Guatemala by selling their made-to-order custom beaded bracelets.
Born in Guatemala and raised in the U.S. for most of their lives, the friends say that Guatemala holds a special place in their hearts. They felt called to make a difference for a cause that is deeply personal to them.
“Guatemala is my birthplace, I would do anything to help the people and the country,” shared JJ. “I was fortunate enough to have the chance for a good life and a good education, and I want to give someone else a chance, even if it is a little one,” she continued.
Izzie and JJ are busy with school, extracurricular activities, friends, and family, but they still make time to help those who don’t have the same educational opportunities that they do. “In school, they encourage us to volunteer and try to better the lives of people less fortunate than us. JJ and I live in New York City but were both born in Guatemala, so that is where we wanted to concentrate our efforts,” Izzie explained.
Personal, pretty, and vibrant––an idea was born to create and sell custom beaded bracelets reminiscent of Guatemala’s colorful markets, textiles, and landscapes with proceeds benefitting Common Hope students. The duo even thought about product marketability. “Each holiday and season provide us an opportunity to tie our bracelets in with the holiday’s theme, so the designs change all the time. They are easy to ship and bring along with us. It is fun and people of every age group love them,” shared Izzie.
The girls’ fundraiser has been a tremendous success! JJ shared that one of her favorite moments in their fundraising journey was when they reached $1,000. “It was one of the best feelings, hitting a milestone and knowing it’s doing something good for someone else,” JJ exclaimed.
Izzie and JJ’s fundraising efforts are making a difference. According to The World Bank, only 3.3% of the GDP is dedicated to education in Guatemala, the lowest in Latin America. The underfunded education system creates classroom environments where it is difficult for students to learn and stay engaged. Through their fundraising efforts, the duo is helping Common Hope remove barriers to quality education.
To date, the girls raised $2,925, enough to fund a year of programming for three Common Hope students! They plan to keep making their custom bracelets throughout their high school careers and encourage others to fundraise, too, as it can make a life-changing impact.
Thank you, Izzie and JJ, for filling hearts (and wrists) with hope one bracelet at a time!