URI pharmacy student collaborates with Alex and Ani to design bracelets that bring water to poor communities worldwide
Elizabeth Rau, 401-874-2116
KINGSTON, R.I., Jan. 7, 2015 – The next time you shop at Alex and Ani think of Paige Dellerman, a University of Rhode Island junior who designed a bracelet that is bringing clean glasses of water to poor communities worldwide.
Twenty percent of sales of The Living Water Charm Bangle go to Living Water International, a Texas-based nonprofit organization that provides clean drinking water to developing countries.
The 21-year-old East Greenwich resident says working with the Rhode Island jewelry maker has been one of the most rewarding experiences of her life. So far, more than 200,000 bracelets have been sold, raising $775,000 for the group.
“I’m saving lives,’’ says Dellerman, who is majoring in pharmaceutical sciences and minoring in business and public relations. “I’m excited that it’s gone this far, and that I’ve been able to do so much.’’
Her journey to philanthropic work started as a member of Windsor Crossing Community Church in Chesterfield, Mo., a suburb outside of St. Louis where she grew up. Her church was involved with Living Water, and Dellerman learned about the global water crisis.
The family moved to East Greenwich in 2008 when Dellerman’s mother, Elizabeth Wingate, got a job at CVS headquarters in Woonsocket. During her junior year at East Greenwich High School, Dellerman had to come up with an idea for a senior project. Living Water seemed like a perfect fit. “I wanted to do something meaningful – not just a bake sale,’’ she says.
More than 783 million people lack access to clean drinking water. Bad water leads to fatal illnesses, such as cholera. Roundworm and other water-related diseases stunt growth and shrink cognitive potential. Yet the solution is so simple: wells.
Dellerman wrestled with how to raise money for the group, then came up with an enterprising idea: She would reach out to the multimillion-dollar Cranston-based jewelry company to ask if she could create a bracelet for its Charity by Design line.
She fired off an email and the rest, as they say, is history. With Alex and Ani’s blessing, she was involved in all aspects of the creative process, from designing to marketing. The bracelet was the first student-driven project at the company.
The bangle is a single robin’s egg blue teardrop that resembles a drop of water. Dellerman is especially proud of the “meaning card’’ she wrote that comes with the bracelet: “Everything begins and ends with water. It is the most precious resource that supports life in all its forms. Water is the nourishment that mends us, body and soul. A purifying symbol, the Living Water Charm was created for daily reflection, leading us to the type of compassion and healing that quenches the thirst of the world.’’
Dellerman also organized the launch party for the bracelet in 2012 at the company’s East Greenwich store. “It was really fun,’’ she says, “and fulfilling.’’ Fifteen percent of the jewelry sales at the event went to Living Water.
Sales of the bracelet have been brisk. In fact, it is one of Alex and Ani’s top five sellers in the Charity by Design brand, a fact that is not lost on Dellerman. “It's so satisfying,’’ she says.
In 2013, Dellerman helped design another bracelet for Alex and Ani, this one with a pink teardrop called The Living Water for Women Bangle. She chose pink to honor women, who bear much of the burden of carrying water in developing countries. Twenty percent of the sales of this bracelet, a limited edition, also went to Living Water, raising $60,000.
Last summer, Dellerman and two Alex and Ani employees, including Deidre Fraser, went to Guatemala for eight days to help dig wells in poor villages, thanks to Living Water, which paid for the trip. Fraser is operations specialist for Alex and Ani’s charity line.
“It was the journey of a lifetime,’’ says Dellerman. “I actually got to meet the people I’m helping. The kids were so appreciative we were there. The water they were drinking looked like mud. To give them clean water for the first time was one of the best moments of my life. There are no words to describe it.’’
Although Dellerman is majoring in pharmaceutical studies at URI, her classes in business and public relations are invaluable in her philanthropic work. As the public relations chair for Alpha Delta Pi Sorority and a member of the Panhellinic Council, she’s also involved in philanthropic activities on campus.
“This whole experience has been incredible,’’ she says. “It’s two different worlds coming together – philanthropy and fashion – to make a difference. The bracelets are also a constant reminder that you’re helping people who don’t have something so basic as a glass of clean water.’’
Click here for information about Living Water.
Click here for details about The Living Water Bangle Bracelet
“I had the opportunity to meet Paige in 2011 when she first presented her school project that was focused around the possibility of Alex and Ani’s Charity by Design partnering with Living Water International through the launch of a new charm,’’ says Fraser. “Through Paige’s introduction to the nonprofit group we have since had a successful and impactful partnership with the organization. From a co-sponsored well in Guatemala to thousands of bangles sold resulting in $835,000 donated to provide safe water to men, women, and children across the globe, I continue to look in amazement at what we have been able to accomplish together.”
Paige Dellerman, a junior at URI, holds a boy in Guatemala.
Guatemalan children celebrate a new well in their village.
Living Water Charm Bangles
On right, Paige Dellerman, 21, a URI junior, helps dig a well to provide clean water to a village in Guatemala. On left is Sarah Evans, of Houston.
Photos by Kristen Bittel.