Over the years Calliope Designs has had the opportunity to give back to our community in Santa Rosa California, and throughout Sonoma County. When a business becomes involved with giving of time, products, or money, it enlivens the spirit of the employees of the business as well, and gives them the feeling of generosity and contribution.
For many holidays our employees conducted a food drive to create some lovely holiday dinners for our local women’s shelters. Most of our employees were women, and most of them had families. They filled the baskets with pumpkin for pies, loaves of bread for turkey stuffing, cranberry sauce and applesauce, canned yams, and canned peas. And other products too. We always added a turkey at the end! This gift from each one of them became a beautiful tradition. Calliope Designs accompanied the baskets of ingredients for a special meal with dozens of our handcrafted dough ornaments, and sent special instructions and pens with each basket so the ornaments could be personalized for the children in the shelters. Our employees were proud of their work, and proud that their beautiful creations that were donated at Christmas time to someone less fortunate.
As a company we became known as a destination tour for girl scout and boy scout troops, classrooms, art schools, and nursery schools throughout Sonoma County as well. We often had two or three tours a week, especially during the Autumn and pre Thanksgiving. Groups would come to our business building and be carefully led through the “factory” where the dough was mixed in many colors. The children were each given a piece of dough to carry around and squeeze and roll! They loved the tactile soft feel of the salt and flour dough. Then they were taken to the tables were our talented employees formed the ornaments. The kids were fascinated with the process and quietly watched as Santas, Snowmen, Penguins, and Teddy Bears were hand pieced into adorable ornaments. After they were made the children loved seeing trays of ornaments placed in the huge pizza ovens we had which held over 2000 ornaments – a day’s production.
We toured the shipping department where ornaments were carefully packed for shipment to gift shops and department stores. The children really loved our pellet dispenser which hung from the ceiling…. because we called it Big Bird! They enjoyed seeing the boxes piled up at the back door, waiting for UPS to come and pick them up and send them on their way.
And the end of the tour there was always a box of bags of different colored “bread” dough for the teacher or troop leader to take back to class. We imagined a wonderful art session the next day where everyone got to make a creation of their choice.
As the years went on the word went out to the teachers of Sonoma County that our company was happy to donate our left over colored clay to schools for art projects. We always made fresh dough every single day. It kept the colors vibrant and kept yeast from developing in the flour causing distortions in baking the ornaments. We had so many teachers calling to pick up left over “dough” that we had to make a schedule. It was really fun to make this contribution, and we still get calls from teachers asking for dough – unfortunately we now make the ornaments from polymer clay! But we pass out the recipe when anyone asks.