Busy hands are working together to create a product tailored to supporting people with cancer: Wine wraps.
According to Brewer resident Ellen Russell, founder of Maine Made Wine Wraps, the project started three years ago. Russell, along with Janet Bertucci wanted to do something to honor their friend Cristy Sullivan Warstler, who battled breast cancer at age 31
Sullivan Warstler, once a child psychologist at the Eastern Maine Medical Center, spent much of her time walking her dog around her neighborhood. She formed a Race for the Cure team, Team Cristy, while she was battling cancer.
Russell explained that the choice to make wine wraps came from a desire to create a “cheerful way to remember her” and at the same time helped one of her favorite charities, the Susan G. Komen Foundation.
The wine wraps, which are stitched by dedicated volunteers like Andy Matthews of Surry and Glenice Williams of Hampden among others, are sold at many area businesses in the greater Bangor area, including at State Street Wine Cellar at 195 State St. in Bangor. For owner Shane McCarthy, carrying the wine wraps was a no-brainer.
“Cristy was a customer here and she and her husband used to buy wine from me,” McCarthy said. “It was easy for me to say ‘yes’ when they approached me.”
Sullivan Warstler lost her battle with cancer, but the project lives on and has raised more than $10,000. In its first year, sales of the wine wraps resulted in a donation of $5,400 to the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure on behalf of Team Cristy.
After the success of the first year of sales, the dedicated stitchers searched for an organization that could keep the funds solely in Maine and benefit many people. That’s when they found the Cancer Support Center of Maine, headquartered at 147 Main Street in Bucksport.
The Cancer Support Center of Maine is a non-profit that provides services for free to cancer patients and their co-survivors based on their individual needs. According to Executive Director Barbara Vittum, services offered include “rides to appointments, helping them find existing social service programs, education and helpful information as they go through treatment, help for families find ways to cope and offer hope as their loved ones battle cancer, and emotional support for both cancer patients and those they love.”
According to Vittum, a cancer survivor herself, the wine wrap project is a gift unto itself.
“The creation of the Wine Wrap project is an amazing gift,” Vittum said. “First by remembering [Cristy] in a constant way that gives to others, and to also honor the lives of those who have cancer, who are on their cancer journeys and fighting for their lives.”
Donations are the heart blood of non-profits, but Vittum said the donations from the sales of wine wraps are particularly important.
“The ongoing and consistent donations that comes from the sale of the wine wraps is a huge gift to the Center,” Vittum said. “All programs offered by the Center are free. We are totally funded by the generosity of our community — and the wine wraps has brought us closer to our community through the volunteers who offer to donate materials, to those who volunteer to sew them, to the generous businesses who sell them, and [we] so appreciate those who purchase the wraps that help fund our organization.”
While the wraps are called “wine wraps,” they can hold most any bottle and are perfect as add-on gifts for the holidays and for hostess gifts, McCarthy said.
Wine wraps can be purchased in Bangor at State Street Wine Cellar, the Natural Living Center, Bangor Wine and Cheese, Metropolitan Soul, Rebecca’s, Ingrid’s German Gift Shop, Patrick’s Hallmark on Broadway, Chapel Hill Floral. In addition, the Wine Wraps can be purchased at Ampersand in Orono, Schact’s Gifts in Hampden, Winterport Winery, The Good Table in Belfast, Global Beverage Warehouse in Ellsworth, The Good Kettle in Stockton Springs, House Wine in Bar Harbor, at the Blue Hill Co-op and the Belfast Co-op, at RAYR in Rockport, at the Blue Hill Wine Shop, Bartlett Maine Estate Winery, Four Flags in Castine, Silkweeds in Searsport, Charles and Meckean in Waldoboro, The French Cellar in Machias, Mo’s Variety in Rangeley, Up Front and Pleasant in Farmington, The Pine Tree Market in Northeast Harbor, Lily Lupine and Fern in Camden, Saturday Cove in Northport, Spin a Yarn in Brewer and Vic and Whits in Saco.
For more information about Maine Made Wine Wraps, visit them online at www.mainemadewinewraps.com or find them on Facebook.