Hawthorne Elementary fifth grader ‘just likes to give’

Published 9:00 am Sunday, December 29, 2019

Girl makes, sells earrings for students in need at local schools


What started as a wedding gift turned into a way to give back for one local girl.

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Nataleigh Nelson, 11, went to a wedding her father was in about a month ago and decided to make a pair of earrings as a wedding gift for the bride. Then, as Christmas approached, she thought selling different pairs of earrings could be a good way to help her earn money to buy gifts for her family. When her mother, Angie Nelson, was considering doing an angel tree for Christmas — finding a family in need to buy gifts for — Nataleigh’s idea turned into a way to help buy items for those in need.

A fifth grader at Hawthorne Elementary School, Nataleigh so far has bought socks, leggings and snacks to bring to school for staff to give to students who need those items — whether it’s because they got their socks wet at recess or that they didn’t have any to wear to school in the first place. Angie Nelson is a Minnesota Reading Corps tutor at Halverson Elementary School, and has brought some of the items Nataleigh bought into that elementary school as well. Next, they plan to buy some sweatpants to bring in for students.

There’s no set percentage of each sale that goes to buying items to donate. Instead, when Nataleigh has accrued enough of a profit to do some shopping, that’s when she decides to get some items for her fellow students.

“She just likes to give,” Angie Nelson said of her daughter. “She’s very giving.”

Nelson makes the earrings in all different shapes, sizes and colors, and is always open to custom orders. – Colleen Harrison/Albert Lea Tribune

She cuts most of the earring designs from different patterns of faux leather — with help from her mom, and every once in a while her mom’s Cricut. They tend to stick to hand-cutting the earrings, though, Angie Nelson said, as it makes them more personal.

Buffalo plaid — in red and black as well as white and black — has been one of Nataleigh’s more popular designs. One of her personal favorites is a mermaid-inspired set that look like shimmering fish scales. She makes the earrings in all different sizes, shapes and colors, and is always open to custom orders, too.

Nataleigh created a Facebook page for her earrings — Natty Marie Designs. She planned to give a free pair away when the page reached 50 likes, but became so busy with orders from the Facebook page she ended up giving two pairs away because the likes tally had surpassed the original goal.

The mother and daughter are hoping to find connections in the other schools as well so they can donate items in need. Even with Nataleigh starting middle school next school year, though, she said she’ll always donate to Hawthorne.

“It’s her home school,” Angie Nelson said.

When Nataleigh’s not making earrings, she likes participating in Girl Scouts and dancing with Just For Kix.


About Colleen Harrison

Colleen Harrison is the photo editor at the Albert Lea Tribune. She does photography and writes general-assignment stories.

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