Last week was a strange one for Tattooed Hippie Pirate Mommas founder Stacy Willingham. She was already getting a ton of publicity for the mom group she founded and the calendar she helped create to raise money for charity.
It reached an interesting new level when we reported that the Children's Advocacy Center for Denton County (CACDC), the organization that the group originally intended to give the calendar's proceeds, had turned the donation down because "the money was raised with a pinup calendar that could be perceived by some as sexual in nature," according to a statement released by the center's executive director, Dan Leal.
The comments and reactions that followed featured a mix of outrage that a charity would turn down the donation and a handful of fairly cruel criticisms of the moms.
The good news is that all of that is past and the group has found a new charity that can use the calendar money for similar causes. They even found ways to work with the CACDC.
Willingham said the money raised from their new pinup calendar, which officially goes on sale on December 1, will go to several nonprofit groups including Bikers Against Child Abuse (BACA) and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Center.
"We thought would stick with a children's advocacy group so we could help the kids," Willingham said. "We think that BACA will use our donation to fund their annual camp for the children that they sponsor. It's expensive from what I understand, so they said our funds would be a nifty way to cover some of that."
Willingham said she also talked with Leal since the news about the rejected donation broke and they are discussing ways to the two can still work together.
"He and I exchanged phone calls and emails to essentially make peace and express that we're both sorry for the negativity that surrounded this and neither of us meant for it to happen like that," she said. "He actually invited the girls to come to the center for a tour to see how we might be able to volunteer for them, and he wanted to meet us, so we're excited for that. Even though we didn't get to donate, we still want to help out. Our hearts are in the right place, so it's a happy ending."
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The publicity that followed also attracted a lot of interest in the calendar. She said they received queries from several local businesses to sell the calendar by kicking off its release with special appearances at places like Wycked Vapor in Lake Dallas on December 7 and the Social Lizard Vapor Co. on December 14. The calendar is also available for purchase on the group's Etsy page.
"A lot of people reached out to us to ask us to have calendar signing events at their stores or to sell calendars at their stores," Willingham said. "We've already sold at least 10 including one to someone in the United Kingdom and one to someone in Korea. That's really cool."
Willingham said she's most pleased to so many people offered to help to outweigh the cries of the haters that the Internet can so easily produce when a story goes viral.
"We got a lot of people who said we love what you're doing and we want to work with you," Willingham said. "That's really amazing that people saw who we really were and genuinely wanted to make a difference. A lot more positive came out of it than negative with all these opportunities to volunteer."