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Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2016

Designer's project puts message from the heart in public view

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Janet Haines puts one of her car magnets on a vehicle.
SIKESTON - Janet Haines has found a way to use her business skills to support a cause she is passionate about.

Haines, owner of Wings Creative, has designed a car "ribbon" magnet with the message "Choose Life." The magnet is being used by groups as a fund-raiser and is available in local Christian bookstores.

The idea for the simple pink and blue ribbon magnet began several months ago. According to Haines, she and her brother, the Rev. Dave Hulshof, vocational director for the Springfield-Cape Girardeau Diocese, were discussing possible fund-raisers for a parish.

"I had just finished a DARE auto ribbon magnet project in Cape," she recalled. "So I began thinking about what would be a universal theme on a religious note."

She finally settled on: "Choose Life" on the ribbon portion of the magnet.

Although it all sounds simple enough, Haines said it took several months to determine the final look. She used family and friends as her focus groups, even taking samples to basketball games before determining the final version.

Haines said they have found that people are very receptive since the magnets are easy to put on and just as easily removed.

"When people saw it they were very positive about it," she said. "Car magnets are such a popular trend right now and a very visual way for people to put any kind of message on their vehicle. These days you see all types of messages from sports teams to medical causes. Choose life needs to be right up there with them."

Pointing out the magnets are a high-quality product, she said they are fade resistant and washable. The maker, Haines continued, is one of the leaders in the magnet industry.

As part of her design, the center heart can be separated from the ribbon creating two magnet messages from one.

Investing her own money, Haines, a distributor for a magnet company, placed an initial order of 500 to see how the ribbon magnets would go over. The results, she admitted, astounded her.

Students at St. Francis Xavier Catholic School and other schools sold the magnets in record numbers. Already there are about 2,000 of the Choose Life magnets in circulation. Some are visible on local cars while others were sent out-of-state and even overseas, Haines said.

Praising the youngsters' enthusiasm in selling the magnets, she said they were equally enthusiastic about the message it promotes. Her own children will point out the magnets on various vehicles.

"When we pull up behind a van or a truck with the magnet on the back I will see my son just grin. I think he feels empowered, he sees he is making a difference," she said. "This is a really good way to take something that is in your heart, put it out there and, hopefully, make a difference. Maybe someone is facing a difficult decision and they will see a simple Choose Life message right in front of them and realize that life is a fit. It may be the sign they were looking for. It may make all the difference in the world."

Now with the initial design down (the final changes were making the blue just a bit darker and adding a Web address), Haines is preparing to place another large-quantity order. She said a youth group in Memphis may use the magnets as a fund-raiser to earn money for a trip to World Youth Day in Cologne, Germany, while her brother hopes to sell them in support of Hispanic ministry efforts in Southwest Missouri. Others have talked about using the magnets just to fund youth nights, special events and various group activities.

The "Choose Life" message is a theme that appeals to all. Haines said she has had interest shown by several other churches and faiths.

"Everybody has been so helpful in getting word out - to promote it - some people are actually delivering boxes for us and the support from the other churches has been so uplifting," she said.

The creativity isn't stopping at just a magnet either. Haines is looking at other spinoffs to promote "Choose Life." She has put together a Web site - justchooselife.com - in support of the message. Also after getting the business up and running she plans to donate a portion of her proceeds to national right-to-life causes.

"We wanted to be the voice that says every life is valuable. We are starting with family, friends, schools and churches," she said. "We want to take it all across the world."

In addition to being available through local fund-raising groups, the ribbon magnet is sold at Williams Christian Bookstore, 4kids and Uth Two and Paul's Christian Bookstore.

For more information on the project contact Haines at 471-7769.