Mak­ing Christ­mas bright

Jewelry drive un­der­way to help Kings County women in need this Christ­mas


Edith Ri­ley is hop­ing to help make Christ­mas sparkle for some spe­cial women.

Ri­ley is a vol­un­teer with Gems for Gems, an or­ga­ni­za­tion founded in Cal­gary by a woman who grew up in Scott’s Bay. The or­ga­ni­za­tion takes gen­tly-used cos­tume jewelry do­nated by women and cleans it up, then presents it to women who might not get other gifts un­der the tree this Christ­mas.

“We’ve talked with Chrysalis House, and we’re part­ner­ing with them to give this jewelry to the women they help,” Ri­ley said. “I think that some­times moms and women for­get about them­selves be­cause they can fend for them­selves and fo­cus on pro­vid­ing for their chil­dren. That’s all they’re wor­ried about.”

Hav­ing a lit­tle some­thing sparkly on Christ­mas morn­ing, she said, will mean a lot to them.

“It will make them feel like they’re some­body,” she said. “We all have jewelry at home that’s got to go, and this is a great way to give it to some­one who will re­ally trea­sure it.”

This is the first year Gems for Gems has ex­panded to Kings County, Ri­ley said, but it’s been run­ning for a few years now in Al­berta.

Jor­dan ( Trainor) Guild­ford founded the non-profit or­ga­ni­za­tion in Cal­gary, where she now re­sides, but was in­spired by her child­hood in Kings County.

In a video on her web­site, Guild­ford ex­plains that her fam­ily didn’t have a lot when she was grow­ing up and her mother sac­ri­ficed a lot to en­sure she and her sib­lings had ev­ery­thing they needed. One year, she says, she and her sib­lings pooled their money – about $50 – and pur­chased their mom a bracelet.

“When she opened it on Christ­mas morn­ing, she was cry­ing,” Guild­ford said. “She was re­minded she was a woman and not just a life source.”

That in­spired Guild­ford to found Gems for Gems, a jewelry drive that “re­unites women with them­selves.”

Ex­pand­ing it to her home­town was only nat­u­ral, said Ri­ley, who was anx­ious to sup­port her friend’s ef­forts. Ri­ley teamed up with Guild­ford’s sis­ter, Britt Mas­troianni, who re­sides in Can­ning, and be­gan a six-week cam- paign re­cently to col­lect jewelry to spread that Christ­mas magic to other women.

“It’s such a great pro­gram and the en­ergy Jor­dan has for it is just amaz­ing,” Ri­ley said. “I love to get jewelry and I never get it – it’s a pick me up. I hope that we can give women who need it that feel­ing.”

Ri­ley, who works at NSCC King­stec, says she’s seen many other women be­yond Chrysalis House that could use that magic as well. She and Mas­troianni are start­ing small this year but hope to ex­pand to other help­ing or­ga­ni­za­tions next year.

“At King­stec, I hear what some of our older stu­dents have been through – some­times even that morn­ing be­fore they come to school,” she said. “We have a food bank to help, but I’d like to do some­thing more. There’s a lot out there that’s hap­pen­ing that peo­ple don’t know about – ei­ther be­cause they don’t want to know or be­cause they just don’t know.”

For now, though, she’s hope­ful the sparkly lit­tle bracelets, neck­laces, ear­rings, watches and other cos­tume jewelry she’s col­lect­ing will brighten the day of the women who are helped by Chrysalis House.

“We’ll clean it up, and we have cute lit­tle bags to put it in,” she said. “What­ever peo­ple want to give, we’re happy to take. We’re set­ting the bar low be­cause we’re start­ing so late.”

The jewelry will be de­liv­ered just in time for Christ­mas, she said.

Drop-off lo­ca­tions for jewelry in­clude The Yoga Barn in Cen­tre­ville and Sho­ken De­fence MMA and Fit­ness in Kentville, and the last date for pick-up is Dec. 9, she said.

“We hope it gets big­ger, we want to make other part­ners in the com­mu­nity so we can of­fer more ser­vices to women in need,” she added. “I think it’s ex­cit­ing to be in­volved in some­thing like this.”

An­other branch of the pro­gram is also ex­pand­ing in Hal­i­fax, she said.

Any­one wish­ing to do­nate jewelry or who would like to help out can con­tact Ri­ley at edith. ri­


Edith Ri­ley is hop­ing the Gems for Gems jewelry drive will be a suc­cess in Kings County.

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