Nationwide RJO project aims to raise thousands on Sept. 24 for Katrina victims

The Retail Jewelers Organization, the oldest U.S. buying group for independent jewelers, aims to raise thousands of dollars in a nationwide project to aid victims of Hurricane Katrina.

It has designated Sept. 24 as RJO Hurricane Katrina Relief Day.

On that day, the members and vendors will do one of three things to help people in the devastated areas: hold a clothing or food drive; make a personal monetary donation, or donate a percentage of their sales for that day. All of RJO’s 785 jeweler members and its 180-plus suppliers are being urged to participate.

“Our goal is 100% participation from our membership,” Sarah Streb, RJO’s chief operating officer, told JCK. “If every member could give at least $100, we could over raise $80,000.”

The project is a collaborative effort with Stuller. Inc., an RJO vendor and a major employer in Lafayette, La., where its a leader in recovery efforts. All donations will go to the Stuller, Inc. Hurricane Katrina Relief Fund at the Community Foundation of Acadiana, a qualified tax-deductible organization. “100% of every dollar given” will be directed to relief organizations that need it most in the areas hardest hit, says Charles Lein, Stuller president. (Anyone else wishing to make a contribution can write a check to: Stuller, Inc. Hurricane Katrina Relief Fund, and mail it to Stuller, Inc. Hurricane Katrina Relief Fund, C/o Community Foundation of Acadiana, P. O. Box 3892, Lafayette, LA 70502-3892.)

RJO has 16 members in the Gulf Coast region devastated by the hurricane. As of Sept. 21, it knew of only three that were directly affected.