Reading resident and Boston College Junior Rachel Marolda learned to make jewelry in 2006 while recuperating from brain surgery. She eventually made and sold enough jewelry to donate $10,000 to Children's Hospital Boston, where she was treated. She will make her next $10,000 donation after the holidays.
Marolda had her first brain surgery in 2006, when she was just 14-years-old, to remove a tumor that was sandwiched between her pituitary gland and optic nerve. She became restless while recuperating, so her mother suggested she make jewelry. With help from her mom, and teaching herself basic techniques, Marolda began making earrings, bracelets and necklaces.
After recovering, she started working at a bead store in North Reading, Bett's Bead Shoppe. Bett taught her new skills, how to perfect what she already knew about jewelry making, and paid her in beads.
While spending time at Children's Hospital in Boston for check ups after her surgery, she saw a lot of children going in for treatments, and some suffering.
"It's just not fair," she said.
Around December of that year, she decided to "make something that other people would benefit from." So she started her jewelry business Crystals for a Cause and planned to donate half of every jewelry sale she made.
She creates different styles of jewelry including necklaces, earrings and bracelets. She uses materials like Swarovski crystals, gemstones, frosted crystals and sterling silver.
She sold jewelry to friends, family members and at home parties and craft fairs. Her goal was to raise a few hundred dollars. When she made that quickly, she decided to raise the bar, and her business "kind of evolved,” she said.
By word of mouth, she started to receive orders from across the state. After one year, she had made a few thousand dollars.
"So I said I'll try to get to $10,000," Marolda told Patch.
And she did. In 2009, she donated $10,000 to Children's Hospital for brain tumor research.
Shortly after making her first donation, Marolda was featured on the Today Show during an interview with Jenna Wolfe.
About a year after making her goal, Marolda had to have another brain surgery. A piece of the tumor was left behind after the first operation. The second surgery was successful, and even though she still struggles with memory loss, it's a lot better than it was," she said.
"I'm healthy and happy and everything is going well," she said.
Marolda is close to making her next $10,000 donation and hopes to do so after the holiday season. To order some jewelry that will benefit a great cause, contact her at 617-840-4490 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.