(FORNEY, TX – May 20, 2015) A few steps inside the front door of Philbeck’s Texas Pine Furniture Store in Forney and one can’t help but marvel at the absolute vastness of the place, the large quantities of country-style antique furniture made from solid vintage pine, or even the charming little bracelet stand run by owners Randy and Gayle Philbeck’s daughter, Monica.
Not only does she sell her own homemade bracelets, beaded ornaments and coasters, Monica does it for a good cause: to fight hunger right in her own community.
“I started watching documentaries on how people are going hungry all around the world and I didn’t like it,” said the Forney native, who donates all the profits she makes from the sales to the Forney Food Pantry.
Monica – who battles a mental disability – first began making and selling her own bracelets and coasters when she graduated from Life Skills class at Forney High School in 2011. She drew inspiration for the idea from her time in Life Skills, where Monica and her classmates would volunteer with Meals On Wheels preparing food for the food pantry.
What began as a hobby quickly turned into a very lucrative fundraising opportunity, and after just a year of making/selling bracelets Monica was able to donate over $1,100 to the pantry. To date, she has made over $3,000 in cash donations to the food pantry.
Monica’s glass bead bracelets go for $6, her wood bracelets $4, coasters $3 and necklaces for $15. She averages around $700-800 in sales per year, and wants to make even more so that the food pantry can pay its bills while continuing a high level of service to the community.
“I enjoy it because it’s fun to do and it helps me work with both of my hands,” Monica said. “I also get to help people I don’t hardly know.”
Gayle said Monica designs the bracelets herself and has become quite the whiz at selling them to customers.
“She’s quite the saleswoman, too,” Gayle said. “All of our customers like the idea. They know they’re helping the food pantry, and they like Monica a lot.”
Expect to see Monica and her amazing handiwork for a while to come, as she has no plans to stop anytime soon and really enjoys the feeling of making a difference for those who are starving in her community.
“I feel very blessed that they’re not going hungry ever again,” Monica said.
The Forney Food Pantry, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, has relied on donations from the United Way, churches, businesses, boy and girl scout troops, and individual donors – since its humble beginning inside the old Forney City Jail in 1992. Today, the pantry continues to serve an average of 189 families a month (an increase of nearly 50 percent from 2012) in the Forney and Crandall communities.
For information on how to donate visit the organization’s website at forneyfoodpantry.org/donate, or stop by Philbeck’s located at 119 E. US Highway 80 to purchase one of Monica’s handcrafts.
Story and photo by Austin Wells, Blue Ribbon News reporter.
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