For artist Bobbie Burnett a small gesture became a vocation. Twenty five years ago she made a stained glass angel for a friend who had been diagnosed with leukemia. The angel was so popular at the hospital that Bobbie was asked to make more.
Her friends volunteered to help. The effort grew over the years. Burnett has now raised three quarters of a million dollars and touched many hearts and saved lives.
Bobbie Burnett and her volunteers are hard at work making stained glass angels. Each one, she says, is carefully crafted with loving hands. "Every angel that we make, the harmony, serenity passes through the hands of at least 25 or 30 people before it is completed," she said. "With that, everyone who touches that passes on love."
Burnett founded the Caring Collection, Incorporated, which operates out of the basement of her home in Annapolis, Maryland near Washington, DC. Here, her workers cut, paste, solder and sand and pack a variety of glass angels and other figurines.
Volunteers have made 27,000 angels to date but none of them is paid. Sales have totaled $750,000 and all of the money is donated to local hospitals like the DeCesaris Cancer Institute.
Doctor Mary Elizabeth Young says Caring Collection donations have purchased these specialized computers that use laser technology to help target radiation treatment for cancer patients. "In a hospital like this, which is a not for profit hospital, there are some financial limitations and so the Caring Collection has specifically given us funds that enhance patient comfort and patient care," Dr. Young explains.
Some of the 90 part-time volunteers have very personal connections to Bobbie. She made her first angel for Matt Lyttle's mother, who later died from leukemia. "Bobbie was my mom's best friend and she started this," Lyttle recalls. "She made an angel for my mom 25 years ago and this is what it turned into."
And Darby Steadman is alive today because she is participating in a vaccine trial funded by The Caring Collection. Doctors told her, without this vaccine, she would almost certainly die. "I am a stage four meta-static breast cancer patient," Steadman stated. "So it is wonderful. It is amazing how a small little angel can make a difference in my life and my daughter's life."
Burnett says a side benefit to helping others is the community of support that has developed between volunteers and the people they help. "It's an incredible interconnection of people," Burnett said. "The circle of love comes around."
For Burnett the money raised making glass angels proves anyone can help others using their own unique talents and skills.