The “Material Girls” Provides Something Special in Chelsea
Material Girls may be a witty brief name, but what this group of philanthropic creators do, is nothing short of astounding to a community. Established in 2010, Material Girls was organized as a shopping experience and workshop to craft and share the love of crafting to others. Dedicated to creating affordable gifts for children and families, Allison Vanderspool, Jane Pacheco, and Kelly Stoke set out to make a more fun and fulfilling experience for people in and beyond Chelsea. Since their opening, Material Girls has gained more than 120 members, has 14 leaders, as they continue to see growth. All involved, help to craft, and create monthly projects and events that lengthen the scope of their work. One being, the Children’s Christmas Bazaar, a low-cost shopping event for kids, that runs on the first Saturday in December. Material Girls make hand crafted gifts with donated items, whereafter, children come and secret shop for their friends and family, “It takes us basically most of the week to set everything up,” said Chris Frayer, “Everybody chips in.” Frayer, who’s in charge of memberships and communication for Material Girls, has been with the group for 11 years. Members from 30 to 60 people show up to help make projects for Bazaars, and items sell between $1.00 and $5.00.
There is no fee for becoming a member, and projects are held through most of the year. All meetings and events take place at Chelsea First United Methodist Church, at 128 Park St. in Chelsea. Every second Tuesday of the month from 12:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m., February through October, the church space fills up with new and existing members as they gather to discuss upcoming projects. “The meetings vary but typically runs with 55 people, Tuesday was crazy,” said Nancy Daly, “We loved it, it was great.” Daly has been a member for 8 years and is the monthly March leader helping to lead and produce projects. Daly, originally sang in the church choir and was intrigued by what Material Girls where up to, “I thought what’s this all about?” said Daly, “I was a sewer for years, I have a lot of fabric, and I donated almost everything to Material Girls,” she said, “I was hooked, and I felt so at home.”
The requirement for new members, is to simply show up and have a good time. The church space is well utilized by the group for meetings and projects, as many people and activities come through its doors, “The church has been amazing, we couldn’t do this without the church,” said Daly, “They consider us a mission, and support many charities.” Founders and members collaborate, plan and execute all upcoming projects and needed supplies. Each member can choose which project they’d like to work with and are encouraged to use their skill sets and visions for original ideas, “We try to have every level of ability,” said Daly, “We consciously try to make it a variety.” Tables are set with a variety of crafts for the taking, and the learning.
STN was able to get an inside look at the church and receive a walkthrough of current and held materials by these Material Girls. A designated room, called the “resource room,” holds thousands of well organized, alphabetized, and thoroughly labeled items that have been donated to their cause. Material such as fabrics, buttons, beads, yarn, ornament’s, knick-knacks, who’s a what’s it’s, and well, you name it are stored for use. Chelsea First United Methodist Church isn’t the only partner in helping the efforts, as Faith in Action have also taken part in the mission. Alongside a collaboration, Material Girls has donated profits directly to Faith in Action, including $20,000 raised in 2020, and another $14,000 in 2022. “We never meant to make money,” states co-founder Kelly Stoker, “Our goal had always been to break even.”
Material Girls hold a luncheon each year in November for members, and those who’ve assisted in projects. One aspect of the event includes a silent auction that offers unique, and hand created pieces like quilts, jewelry, and hand painted household items. They also sponsor family events and participate in many holiday crafting and resource giving charities. The MLK Jr. Days of Service being one of many, where blankets were made for refugees, and M.A.G.I.G Stocking Program that serves college students who experienced foster care. All items that aren’t sold or reused, are then donated to Copper Nail, a non-profit in Grass Lake, and storied in the church for community shopping.
Material Girls participate in outreach, and receive many members through social media, word of mouth, community events and more, “I maintain a directory of all the women that are members, and send out invitations each month” said Farley, “I think I’m sending out right now 140 invitations.” It’s easy to see why so many people have helped lift such an uplifting group of people, “Material Girls’ leadership team is made up of women who have proven to be organized, driven, and dependable,” is read on the company description. Donations can be made directly to Material Girls. The group's Facebook page has upcoming needs, events, updates and more.