Buttons made with love

Local girl’s creations support two organizations


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This article was published 16/03/2021 (521 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Drea Macduff-Thiessen loves helping people. She also loves creating things.

So, it shouldn’t have been too much of a surprise when the Southdale resident decided to combine these two passions to create Designs by Drea last summer.

With the help of her grandmother, Suzanne Macduff-Brennan, the 11-year-old started making and selling buttons that attach to a pair of glasses when one needs to wear a mask. These buttons were purchased across Canada, and the proceeds were equally donated to the Save Your Skin Foundation and the Melanoma Network of Canada.

Supplied photo Drea Macduff-Thiessen has combined two of her passions to create Designs by Drea to help the Save Your Skin Foundation and the Melanoma Network of Canada.

One of the main inspirations behind Designs by Drea is Macduff-Thiessen’s Uncle Wes, who has stage 2 high risk melanoma, and completed a year of immunotherapy treatment in 2020. Suzanne Macduff-Brennan explained the buttons come with tiny pieces of elastic, which allows them to be attached to the glasses. She said Wes’ melanoma has turned the family’s life upside down, and she wanted to use the situation as a learning opportunity for her granddaughter.

“I want Drea to learn from this,” Macduff-Brennan said, noting she’d made around $200 at press time. “It wasn’t selling the buttons and making a profit, it was about sharing and helping others, and creating a learning experience.”

Macduff-Brennan is grateful for the support of the Save Your Skin Foundation and the Melanoma Network of Canada, and the resources both bodies have provided.

Supplied photo Drea Macduff-Thiessen is happy she’s been able to help people.

She said the idea was sparked when the pair saw something on social media about teddy bear buttons.

“Drea said, ‘look at these — I’m sure we can make these.’ Some things happen by mistake, and then turn into something big. This was one of those things,” Macduff-Brennan said.

“We made a lot of deliveries, and we made sure Drea went to the door, as we wanted to give people thank-you cards. Some people would buy $10 worth of buttons. I’m very honoured to have been part of this, and I’m proud of Drea for doing her part and following through. I hope this will bring more awareness that melanoma is out there, and people need to take precautions in the sun. The sun is beautiful, but it can also be dangerous if you don’t take the right precautions, and we need to take more precautions.”

Supplied photo Drea Macduff-Thiessen is pictured wearing one of her button sets.

Macduff-Thiessen, who attends St. Emile School, said it was important for her to go out all with the project for a number of reasons.

“It was important to me to make these buttons because I know how the elastics were hurting my ears,” she said. “When I had to wear the mask for a long time, I would have to remove the mask, which is not safe. When I put the buttons on the glasses my pain was relieved. A lady that I sold buttons to had a hearing aid and she was in a lot of pain. The buttons allowed her to continue to work in comfort, which made feel happy that I was able to help someone,” Macduff-Thiessen said.

“For my uncle, he was going for cancer treatments and needed to wear his mask for long periods of time. He felt much more comfortable and his ears were no longer sore. I never thought that I would raise this much money. I feel like I accomplished a goal and that is a very rewarding feeling. Its only $200, but if it helps with research and saving lives then it’s a fantastic contribution to a very important cause.”

“Being creative is very important to me because it allows me to learn new things,” she added, noting she’d like to do something like this again in the future. “It is a learning experience. It is good to experiment and use your imagination. I just want to add that I met so many interesting people selling the buttons. It was a very good learning experience. I even met people who had family that died of melanoma and they were very encouraging with my project and donating the profits for research.”

Go online at saveyourskin.ca and melanomanetwork.ca to learn more about these organizations.

Simon Fuller

Simon Fuller
Community Journalist

Simon Fuller is a reporter/photographer for the Free Press Community Review. Email him at simon.fuller@canstarnews.com or call him at 204-697-7111.

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