One rainy evening in New York, I was lucky enough to happen upon a CRT/tanaka sponsored benefit for L.E.A.D. Uganda. The organization, founded by photojournalist Stephen Shames, funds the education of young people in Uganda. The non-profit helps AIDS orphans, former child soldiers and laborers become leaders, get a basic education and win scholarships to continue their education at elite institutions. Shames has changed the lives of hundreds of people, and by accident, he's doing it in style.
At the event I purchased three necklaces made by one of the mothers of a student in Uganda. Shames says he bought them just out of consideration for her work and needs. He didn't expect them to take-off, but I have a feeling they're going to.
The necklaces are just so beautiful and unique and the majority of the proceeds go to a good cause. I've been wearing these Hope Necklaces nearly every day since I bought them and even sported a light-yellow strand onstage as the moderator for Walletpop's panel with the Huffington Post. Fellow Walletpopper, Ariston Anderson, a master of the sample sale, charged up to me at the event and started fiddling with my necklace. "Where'd you get this!"
Since I've been benefiting from the Hope Necklaces, I thought I'd spread the message that guilt-free shopping does exist. We come up with all sorts of excuses for spending money on the way we look and here's one: you're putting children on the brink of survival through school and helping them become leaders of their communities so that they too can change lives for the better.
This story originally appeared on Walletpop.com.