When the Napa Valley fires broke out in October, 11-year-old Aurorah Rios decided she wanted to do something to help those impacted by the disaster.
The American Canyon middle school student had recently taken up jewelry making as a hobby, so she decided she might try to sell some of her bracelets for a good cause.
With help from her mother, the family reached out to relatives, friends and community members to see if anyone would buy Aurorah’s colorful collection of beaded bracelets for a few dollars apiece.
The effort proved successful, and then some. Aurorah found herself inundated with jewelry orders.
“She set a goal of selling 36 bracelets,” said her mom, Lesa Rios. “Within a week she already had a hundred orders.”
In time the demand more than tripled in quantity, according to mom. “She sold 356 bracelets” for $3, $5 and $10 each, depending on the style.
As a result of Aurorah’s hard work — which at times had her making jewelry past midnight while school was closed because of the fires — her mom is preparing to send a check for more than $1,500 to the Napa Valley Community Foundation to support fire relief programs.
“I figured that was the best way to allocate it however they needed it,” said Lesa.
Aurorah said she was happy how the making and selling bracelets turned out.
“I thought it was a good idea,” she said. “It wouldn’t just help the fire victims, but everybody else who bought them would get a nice bracelet.”
Her mother said, “It’s been a great experience for her,” though it’s not been without trying times.
Aurorah “got a little frustrated,” according to mom, because her conscientious daughter wanted each and every bracelet to be special for those who purchased them.
“She’s very creative,” said Lesa, “and she wanted everybody to have a unique bracelet. But near the end she got a little creatively exhausted” trying to make more than 350 pieces of jewelry distinct from one another.
Mom told Aurorah to cut herself a little slack, and to choose a few of her favorite designs as templates to finish completing the orders.
Aurorah knew from the first days of the fires that she wanted to help.
“I kept thinking, what is something we can do?” said Aurorah. “I had some money in my wallet so I thought we could do care packages and give them to the shelters.”
Her mom then suggested making bracelets — something Aurorah had started doing only a few weeks earlier in her spare time — and selling them to raise funds for care packages for those staying in the shelter set up at American Canyon High School.
“We stayed up until 1 o’clock in the morning making beaded bracelets” during the fires, said Aurorah.
Her mom posted messages about the jewelry sales on social media. Aurorah was given permission by her former school, Donaldson Way Elementary, to sell her bracelets during its annual Harvest Festival.
But by the time the orders flooded in, and Aurorah feverishly assembled her designs, the ACHS evacuation center was emptied and closed.
So mom suggested scrapping the care package idea and focus instead on donating the sale money to a nonprofit.
The family intends to send the $1,500 check this month once they receive the last of the payments from relatives who bought a bracelet.
Aurorah said she intends to keep making and selling her jewelry even after the money is given to the Napa Valley Community Foundation. She’s considered establishing her own shop through Etsy, an online clearinghouse for artisans.
“She’s also thought about going into a career in jewelry making,” said her mother.
“But I want to be a pastry chef, too,” Aurorah interrupted her mother.
Lesa smiled at her ambitious daughter. “She’s not sure if she can do both.”