Jamie Lee Curtis Raises Nearly $1 Million to Support Children’s Hospital Los Angeles Through My Hand In Yours
By SARAH SHMERLING | Editor-in-Chief
What started as a phrase meant to comfort has turned into an extensive online marketplace, My Hand In Yours—raising nearly $1 million in less than two years to support Children’s Hospital Los Angeles under the direction of longtime Palisadian Jamie Lee Curtis.
“For a very long time, I have been someone who feels a lot,” the actress, producer and author explained to the Palisadian-Post. “I have deep feelings and really compassionate feelings for the difficulties of life.”
Curtis shared that when she learned that someone in her life had something going on, whether that be they lost a grandparent, faced a tough job situation or even were celebrating a joyful occasion, she found herself writing at the bottom of every card: “My hand in yours, Jamie.”
“Which was my way of saying, I’m not there in person,” she explained, “but I want you to imagine what it would feel like if I was holding your hand in this moment. Mostly, by the way, in moments of crisis.”
For years, Curtis shared, she has collected the work of Anne Ricketts; the sculptor designed a piece with miniature feet, which Curtis has given people to remind them to “be where their feet are”—a way, she explained, to get them out of their head.
When Curtis called Ricketts with the idea to design a sculpture of holding hands to sell for charity, she said yes and offered to donate all of her time and effort, and sell them to Curtis at what she paid for the foundries.
“I thought I would sell them on Instagram and donate the money to Children’s Hospital,” Curtis explained. “I thought it would be a little business—a little side hustle, as the kids say.”
While in production, the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Friends of Curtis’, Hans and Patti Röckenwagner, who own Röckenwagner Bakery in Culver City, turned their business into an online marketplace where one could buy things from the restaurant when restrictions on dining were placed across the city.
“They just turned their business in a day into a delivery food emporium, and they had a website up very quickly,” Curtis shared, and I was like, ‘Oh, my God, who did your website?’”
The Röckenwagners put Curtis in touch with the person who designed their website, Oliver Marler. When Curtis pitched the idea of creating a website to sell the 100 hand sculptures she had ordered, Marler suggested this would be a bigger endeavor than she originally thought.
“He said, ‘Wow, well you’ll sell those in a day,’ and I said, ‘Wait what? Come on, Oliver. I thought I would give them out at Christmas as Christmas gifts,’” Curtis recalled. “He said, ‘No, no, no, Jamie, this is what I do, I make websites. You’re Jamie, you’ll sell them in a day.’ He said you need more items and lower price point items because the sculpture was going to be $150 and, of course, I understood that for many people, that was an exorbitant amount of money.”
Curtis said that following Marler’s feedback, she quickly began hustling and reaching out to other artists, including fellow Palisadian Cathy Waterman, a jewelry maker who designed a hand necklace that is now sold on the site.
Since its inception, Curtis has partnered with people all over the world to expand the offerings of My Hand In Yours, from teenagers to companies based in Venice and England.
“What happens is … I pay for everything,” Curtis explained. “Everyone is very kind and they sell it to me at a discounted rate, which is wholesaling. Then I retail it on my website and I donate 100% of the sale of every item to Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. I take no administration fees, I take nothing, I don’t recoup any costs, so that when I say #EveryCentIsSent, I mean it.”
As My Hand In Yours reaches its second birthday, Curtis said the website now has around 40 items for sale.
“From what I’m being told from my friends at Children’s Hospital, we are nearing $1 million in sales,” she shared. “It’s incredible, beyond any possibility of an idea.”
Curtis’ relationship with Children’s Hospital originally began years ago in Pittsburgh while she was working on projects in the area. Later, when back in Los Angeles, she devoted her attention here.
“They’re just my people,” she shared. “It’s just the perfect blend of my own personal advocacy, my born and raised Los Angelina pride in our beautiful city, and the history of that institution. It feels like the perfect place for me to pour all of my time and effort.”
When it comes to selecting the artists she works with, Curtis said the relationships develop in different ways: some people have approached her, while she has approached others.
While receiving the Golden Lion Award for Lifetime Achievement at the Venice Film Festival, a friend of Curtis’ arranged for a set of hand towels with embroidered hands to be placed in her hotel room as a congratulations.
“And within a day of getting home, I called the company in Italy because they’re these beautiful crepe linen hand towels that were gorgeous in a powder room,” Curtis shared, “and I asked if they would partner with me, and they did.”
One person who approached Curtis was Terry Castle, a high school friend that she had run into at a reunion when she learned that Castle’s son, Will, had died at the age of 18.
“Of course I was obviously very moved when I saw her and we obviously had a moment together,” Curtis explained. “And then when I started my company, out of the blue, I heard from Terry. She said, ‘Jamie, I’ve started a candle company in my son’s name that we are donating all of the proceeds to pediatric cancer, and I very much would like to design one for your company.’”
All of the candles have the name “Will” in them, like “Will Laugh.” The candle designed for My Hand In Yours was named “Will Comfort,” made in the site’s signature lavender scent.
“That’s how it’s grown, it’s just been a lot of hustle, a lot of serendipity, some beautiful divine intervention and generosity of people who want to participate in something where the center of the whole thing is just giving to an institution that will care for a child, regardless of their ability to pay, which is what Children’s Hospital Los Angeles is,” Curtis shared. “It’s an institution I’ve been supporting for a very, very long time.”
My Hand In Yours also features a subset program dubbed “My Paw In Yours,” where items purchased, including a dog bowl produced by MiiR, are earmarked to support the therapeutic animal program at Children’s Hospital.
“We have found that, just like distractive play, children need … less intervention, when they have an animal around,” Curtis explained. “They just naturally calm children, and they ease them and their anxiety. They really are amazing.”
Another recent addition to My Hand In Yours is from Curtis’ hairstylist Sean James, who provided a lavender hand sanitizer, donating the product as well as the packaging, making it pure profit for Children’s Hospital.
Curtis shared that she hopes the items, like the original, hand-holding sculpture, comfort someone—she wants something that will make life a little easier for someone.
“The goal is simply to raise money in a simple, beautiful way for Children’s Hospital Los Angeles by creating a store where any occasion—Father’s Day, graduation, Mother’s Day, birthdays, anniversaries, housewarming, certainly in memoriam for someone who has been lost,” Curtis concluded, “you can offer a gesture from My Hand In Yours, knowing that you just purchased something that will fund giving back to the children that institution serves.”
For more information, visit myhandinyours.com.
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