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  • Jessica Zaleskiwicz, owner of Coco Couture, started Charity Wars to generate funds and awareness for local nonprofit organizations.
    Jessica Zaleskiwicz, owner of Coco Couture, started Charity Wars to generate funds and awareness for local nonprofit organizations.

Coco Couture Generates Interest In (And Funds For) Local Causes Through Charity Wars Event

Dylan Roche
View Bio
September 7, 2017

There’s nothing quite like a little friendly competition to amp up interest in charitable giving, or so it would seem by the popularity of Coco Couture’s popular summertime giveback event. After successfully launching its first-ever Charity Wars in June, the Severna Park chocolate and ice cream shop plans to hold the event again on Saturday, September 9, and this time, owner Jessica Zaleskiwicz has brought together more specialty vendors and more charities for an even bigger day of small, locally owned businesses making a difference for small, locally owned charities.

“By doing events like this, it allows us to bring the community together and learn about those people and aspects of our community that we didn't even realize were there,” said Lisa Young, who helped Zaleskiwicz conceive the idea for the event. Young is a senior team leader with Origami Owl, a second-time participating vendor in Charity Wars. “Feeling connected to your community is important so that you can take pride in where you live and try to make it a better place,” she added.

The idea behind Charity Wars is simple: Between 10:00am and 2:00pm, shoppers can visit Coco Couture and 16 independent vendors set up in its parking lot outside. Every purchase customers make will earn them a ticket to vote for their favorite participating charity. The winning charity will receive $200, and the other charities will receive $1 for every purchase made at Coco Couture plus $30. “If you purchase something from everyone, you’ve got a lot of chances to vote for your favorite charity,” Zaleskiwicz explained.

The charities featured at the upcoming Charity Wars — the For Ellie Foundation, Raven's Roost 129, the Anne Arundel County chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, City of Refuge: Baltimore Level Up After School Program, and a to-be-determined animal rescue — were “crowdsourced,” as Zaleskiwicz described it, by reaching out to some of the vendors to see what causes were important to them.

“I really like to do charities that are local charities versus the big national ones because it really makes more of an impact on our community,” Zaleskiwicz said. “It makes you feel good. We’re small and local so we like to help others who are small and local.”

Dawn Swisher participated in the first charity wars as both a vendor through Traveling Vineyards and on behalf of a charity in her role as president of Ravens Roost 129. “Jessica asked me if I wanted to participate again and I said absolutely,” said Swisher, who sees the event as beneficial for everyone involved. “Very rarely do you get all these vendors together in one place. You’ve got jewelry and cooking and clothing all in one shot. When you’re shopping, you’re actually contributing to a charity. It’s a win-win.”

Guests who aren’t familiar with all the charities will be able to learn a little bit more about their mission through displays set up inside Coco Couture. This, Young explained, is an important aspect of the event. “Most people know that there are animal rescues in their communities, but do you really know how they work and what they do to help the animals they rescue?” she said. “There are groups in our communities for just about everything — infant loss support, suicide prevention, donation centers to help the homeless, little free libraries to help with literacy, Ravens Roosts that help earn money for scholarships for local high school seniors. Even the groups within our public schools need assistance. The list of organizations that can use help or that could help you are endless, yet no one knows about them.”

To learn more about Charity Wars, find and RSVP to the event put out by the Coco Couture page on Facebook, or visit www.cococouturecreations.com. Coco Couture will also hold a back-to-school event the following day, Sunday, September 10, from noon to 5:00pm, when all teachers will receive free single scoops of ice cream and students will receive $1 single scoops. For details, call 410- 793-5015.


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