Angelic Figurines Promote Hope, Healing, Research

Caring Collection, Inc. uses stained glass angels to raise money for the fight against cancer.

Posted in , Oct 20, 2011

Bobbie Burnett with the stained glass angels that bring hope to cancer patients.

Last December I was thrilled when Guideposts ran my story, “The Angel Factory,” about the stained-glass angels I design and sell to raise money for cancer research.

“You’ll probably hear from our readers,” the editors told me. “They love to help a good cause.”

Even a few donations would have been a plus, but that wasn’t why I wanted to tell my story. While my husband, Jerry, and I waited for the magazine to come out, I thought about the angel who’d started everything.

Thirty years ago my dear friend Susie was diagnosed with leukemia. A few months later, her husband was laid off. Lord, show me how to help her, I prayed one night.

My mind drifted to a stained-glass class I’d taken. I loved the peaceful, almost healing feeling I got watching sunlight shimmer through the glass.

What else was peaceful and healing? Angels, of course.

The next day I got to work on Susie’s stained-glass angel. She was aqua (Susie’s favorite color) with silvery pearl wings, a golden halo and a holder for a votive candle.

“I love her!” Susie said.

It was such a small thing, but Susie made me feel like I’d really made a difference. A few weeks later Susie mentioned that people had asked her where they could buy an angel for themselves.

“You have to make more,” she insisted.

How could I let Susie down? I gathered up some friends and showed them how to make the angels. We could donate the money from sales to help Susie and her family with medical expenses!

“Looks like an angel factory!” Jerry laughed when he saw us working in the basement.

Within a year we’d raised a thousand dollars. But only a few weeks later we lost Susie to cancer. We were heartbroken.

Susie’s husband and parents urged us to keep going. We did that and more. In 1993 we became a nonprofit, Caring Collection, Inc.

Our new goal? To raise a million dollars and donate it to area hospitals for cancer research and patient care in Susie’s memory.

Word of mouth spread. Fast. Orders poured in from all over.

Hundreds of volunteers showed up to fulfill them. From a 14-year-old high school student to an 89-year-old retired teacher to a dedicated set of siblings whose lives have been forever altered by cancer: Susie’s own children, Katie, Jenny and Matt.

By last winter we’d raised $845,000 for the Johns Hopkins oncology center, where Susie was treated, and the Anne Arundel oncology center here in Annapolis. Would Guideposts readers push us farther toward our goal?

The magazine was out about a week. That’s when we got our first call.

“Hi, I’m Sherry from Baltimore and I just read your story. My daughter suffers from depression and an angel would really lift her spirits—especially since the money goes to an important cause.”

Even one person is a big help, I thought. I hung up the phone and started upstairs. It was getting near bedtime. But before I could get away, another call. Charlie from Georgia.

“Loved your story!” he said in a sweet southern drawl. “I’m ninety-four and my daughter has breast cancer. She’s my world. Can you send her an angel?”

The phone rang again. And again. And...I talked to folks all through the night!

The next day our mailbox was full. Packages came too.

“Thought you could use these,” wrote Judy Bush. Her note was attached to a box of packing peanuts. Emails stuffed our inbox.

“My grandmother and I want to make angels,” wrote Katelyn Malchester of Washington College. “Let us know what we can do to help.”

A year later Guideposts readers are still contacting us round the clock. Each one is like a part of our family, bringing us closer to a cure for cancer.

We’re at $945,000 and counting...counting on all the angels we have on our side. Angels just like you.

Read Bobbie’s Guideposts story. Order one of her angels by calling 410-849-5333 or visiting


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