If you’ve ever lost one of your favorite earrings, but couldn’t bear to throw the match away, Denisse Montalvan has a solution for you. The 33-year old LA-based public relations professional founded a nonprofit called The Orphaned Earring that creates and sells one-of-a-kind bracelets using beads and stones from earrings that have been “orphaned”. However, the organization’s mission is anything but frivolous: the money she raises from selling the jewelry pays for arts and crafts, holiday parties and school supplies for children at four orphanages throughout Latin America.
It all started back in 2008 when Montalvan took a trip to Nicaragua—the country where she lived from ages 10 to 17—to visit and bring Christmas gifts to an orphanage she’d heard about through her church.
“I was shocked by how young these children were,” Montalvan recalled. “I thought: Despite how terrible their lives had been, how can they be so sweet and caring and loving? I can’t believe they’re so happy with so little.”