State College, PA - Centre County - Central Pennsylvania - Home of Penn State University

Bracelets to Benefit RAINN

by on September 03, 2012 6:47 AM

Over the past 10 months, there have been plenty of dark clouds hovering above Happy Valley. Occasionally, there has been a silver lining among the clouds.

Kelsey Hirsch is a silver lining.

Hirsch, who resides in the small town of Schwenksville, Pa., has designed a bracelet that raises funds for RAINN, the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network. To date, Hirsch's bracelet has raised more than $12,000.

By the way, Hirsch is 12 years old.

“It's been amazing,” Kelsey said of her journey, which has landed her on talk shows and in front of television cameras. “I'm really proud of what I've been able to do.”

Kelsey is the daughter of two Penn State graduates. When the news of the Penn State sex abuse scandal first broke, her parents sat her down and tried to explain what was happening in State College.

“When the Sandusky scandal broke, my wife and I spoke with her and her little brother to be sure that no one else gave them bad info,” Charles Hirsch explained. “We also wanted them to feel free to ask questions. Kelsey's question was, 'how can we help the kids?'”

As part of her Bat Mitzvah project, Kelsey began designing the bracelet, Bands4RAINN.

The bracelet is blue and white and features the RAINN slogan, “Hope. Courage. Strength.” The bracelets are intended to show solidarity and support for victims of abuse.

Charles fronted the money for the first batch of bracelets. After that, the project took on a life of its own.

“She started with a modest goal, then it grew to $1,000, then $5,000,” Charles explained. “There's been a great response. She raised almost $12,000 to date and the Penn State and RAINN communities have been very supportive.”

The Hirsch's made the trip to Happy Valley for the annual Blue-White Game in April and set up shop outside Beaver Stadium.

“Penn State worked with us and helped us get the word out about Bands4RAINN,” Charles said. “We had a lot of people coming up to us that day. When Franco Harris stopped by and made a nice donation, we knew it was taking off.”

They raised $2,000 that day.

Hirsch said that 100 percent of the proceeds from the sale of Bands4RAINN go to the charity.

“They've used the money to help fund online resources for victims of abuse,” Charles said. “They have seen a 47 percent increase in demand since the Sandusky scandal broke.”

RAINN has assisted the Hirsch's in the sale of the bracelets. The bracelets are available at the RAINN website. They're also available at the Student Book Store in downtown State College.

Chris Morelli is the managing editor of The Centre County Gazette.
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