I know people are tired of hearing about COVID-19, but the pandemic is still here, and it’s still affecting our lives more than a year after the first shutdowns. For some of us, that meant changing our routines, working from home, and missing out on social gatherings with our friends and family. For others, it was much more serious. The pandemic brought unemployment, food insecurity, lost healthcare benefits, and a serious risk of eviction.
It’s been hard. I feel incredibly fortunate to have been among those who did not lose their job in the pandemic. Last month, I pledged to donate all of the royalties from my books and merchandise to Feeding America along with a personal contribution.
Feeding America is an expansive network of 200 food banks and 60,000 food pantries and meal programs in the United States. The organization has been helping individuals struggling with food insecurity for more than forty years, well before COVID-19 surfaced, but the current crisis has made the need for food banks even more dire. More than 42 million people may experience food insecurity due to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, including a potential 13 million children.
I wanted to give back to my community and country to help those who are suffering in this public health crisis. Early in February, I publicly pledged to donate all of my royalties I collected that month from the following sources:
The award-winning YA supernatural fantasy series is centered around the story of Cato, a former hero with ghostly supernatural abilities who has become an unwilling test subject in a government facility. Two years after his fall from grace, an accident gives Cato and his surrogate “lab-family” the opportunity to escape, but they find themselves hunted by both the government agents of the Human Realm and the Shadow Guards of the Ghost Realm as the two worlds teeter on the brink of war. Both novels received the Literary Titan Gold Book Award in 2020. All royalties collected from the hardcovers, paperbacks, and ebooks were added to the donation.
Last year, I partnered with Old Soul Artisan, a small company from New Jersey that makes hand-crafted candles inspired by literature, folklore, and the dark psyche. We collaborated to create the Avilésor: Mystical Forest fragrance based on the book series (I suppose I’m biased, but it smells amazing! Like stepping right into the ancient forests of Avilésor, Narnia, or Lothlórien). In addition to my cut in February going to Feeding America, the proceeds from these sales benefit a small USA business and wolf conservation in the United States. You can learn more about the collaboration in this earlier blog post.
Apparel & Merchandise
At the end of 2020, I launched two merchandise collections with Teespring, including hoodies, T-shirts, tank tops, phone cases, face masks, blankets, pillows, totes, and stickers featuring the Project Alpha Collection and the Kit Collection from the books.
In February, I released two brand-new designs on my Teespring store. The Alpha Deluxe Hoodie and A6 Collection came online in time to contribute to the cause, more than doubling the Teespring portion of the donation in comparison to the two earlier collections.
Here are some of the ways fans stepped up to support me as an independent author and contributed to Feeding America throughout the entire month of February:
• Shopping local by ordering Book I: A Fallen Hero and/or Book II: Phantom’s Mask through their favorite bookstore if the novels weren’t already available on the shelf (this way local bookstores also benefitted by keeping some of the proceeds)
• Online purchases of hardcovers, paperbacks, or ebooks available on all major shopping platforms, including Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple, Walmart, etc. (Links available on my shop page)
• Purchasing autographed copies of the books directly through me
• Online purchases of the Avilésor candle from Old Soul Artisan, which not only supported Feeding America, but also wolf conservation and a small USA business… so many good causes all wrapped up in one purchase!
• Online purchases of any apparel or merchandise from my Teespring store
Together, with a combination of royalties plus a personal contribution, we provided 5,000 meals to families in need!
I want to thank everyone who showed their support. Some did so by supporting me and helping to make this donation possible. Others contacted me to let me know that they had directly made a donation of their own through the link on my website. Since most of those other donations were private, I can’t attest to the exact numbers, but I can tell you that this giveback initiative has actually provided 10,000+ meals when accounting for other private donations inspired by my original pledge.
That’s amazing, and it brings a huge smile to my face! COVID-19 has brought many of us together in different ways, even as we social distance and stay at least six feet apart. I send a heartfelt thank-you to everyone supporting charities and one another. If you would like to make a direct donation to Feeding America, you can do so by clicking on the button below: