Originally created 06/08/06

Lydia Project assists cancer patients



Helping women with cancer is close to Michelle Johnson's heart.

"My sister and grandmother died of cancer," said Ms. Johnson, an independent unit manager for Cookie Lee Jewelry, a direc-sale company that donated more than $54,000 in jewelry last week to the Lydia Project in Augusta.

Ms. Johnson had helped with the project, an organization that provides women with cancer a handmade tote bag filled with items such as a journal, hard candy, tissues and lotion.

When she learned her company wanted to help charities, she suggested the organization.

Among the items donated by the California-based company are 800 flower pins, which local consultants placed in purple organza bags.

Purple is an important color for the Lydia Project. The organization is named for Lydia, who is mentioned in the Bible as a worshipper of God and a dealer of purple cloth. All of the tote bag's handles are purple.

Also included in the donation were 4,000 pins shaped like children. Of them, 2,000 are designed like little girls, and 2,000 are designed to look like little boys. The pins will be sold to help raise funds for the organization.

"We are very grateful to Cookie Lee. Touching lives of someone with cancer is quite a responsibility," said Laura Holder, of the project.

Started more than two years ago, the Lydia Project has distributed about 1,000 tote bags to women with cancer. About 200 volunteers help in the project - cutting out the bags, monogramming them, sewing and distributing them, and praying for the women who will receive them, said Amy Breitmann, one of the organization's founders.

Bags have been distributed as far away as England, she said.

The Lydia Project might become a national organization, Ms. Breitmann said.

"We've grown tremendously since the inception," she said.

A recent story about the organization in Crossings magazine has generated some interest. Ms. Holder said the first goal, however, is to cover the Augusta area.

For more information, call (706) 736-5467 or visit www.thelydiaproject.org.