VASSALBORO — Josi Haskell and Jodi James foster animals at the Waterville Humane Society, are mothers of teenagers and live a few miles away from each other.

And they have a penchant for helping others. Haskell posted on Facebook Tuesday night about giving away her handmade, .925 sterling silver wire wrapped jewelry “to someone who wants to gift a loved one but hasn’t been able to afford a gift.” An hour later, James commented to offer a variety of items for the same cause.

One of Josi Haskell’s pieces. Contributed photo

“I hope it makes people feel happy, and in this case, it has spread the generosity,” Haskell said. “I’m hoping that when someone sees this post, they say, ‘I’d like to give to someone who needs a smile.'”

She’s given away a handful of items so far, including to a woman who wanted a gift for their sister who helps take care of her.

Both women run their own businesses. Haskell’s is MainelyShiny Things. She volunteers with Vassalboro First Responders, serves on the board of directors of the Vassalboro Food Station Pantry and helps with its yearly toy program, and is involved with other organizations.

“Basically, all I do is volunteer,” Haskell said.

Haskell is a mother of four, ranging in age from 14-17. She’s lived in Vassalboro with her husband, David, for 25 years. She said there are myriad programs for children to get toys, which Haskell takes part in and loves, but she is also pleased to offer an option for adults.

James opened her jewelry company, Knotty Things, 16 years ago. She is unable to work outside the home due to lupus, so she turned her hobby into her job.

“It’s amazing to find your passion in life and it’s even better to turn it into a career,” James said.

James moved with her boyfriend and daughter from Augusta to Vassalboro two years ago.

“It’s nice to be a part of a little town,” James said. “For a little town, it has a big heart. I think people are generally concerned about their community members and neighbors.”

The pine tree pendant is Jodi James’ “signature” piece.” Contributed photo

James saw a similar post in November and offered a ring to someone during Thanksgiving. The amount of time she spends on each piece varies, but many take several hours. She is giving away dozens of items between her local community, Love for the Locals at Lisa’s Restaurant in Augusta, school functions and the Waterville Humane Society.

The pre-Christmas giveaway was just another example of her generosity.

“I noticed that she ran out of items, so I just offered some pieces of inventory,” James said. “I know people are short of income with the whole COVID crisis and it feels like if I’ve got this jewelry laying around and it would mean something to somebody, then I’d love to give it away.”

“Everything is so crazy and everyone is scared, they’re tired of being in the house and tired of working in stressful situations with the pandemic,” Haskell added. “Just seeing something in their face that says, ‘Wow, that’s nice,’ means a lot to people.”


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