FindTape.com has many crafty customers, many of whom use pressure-sensitive adhesive tape in artistic ways. Our colored tape is often used to decorate scrapbooks, hula hoops, and phone cases.
But one of my favorite uses for our tape is both artistic and charitable: Decorating crutches for wounded warriors and military veterans who are amputees.
The genius behind this activity is Genevieve Finn, who founded Genevieve’s Crutches along with her mother, Regina. Genevieve and her mother are regular customers of FindTape.com, and their story is very uplifting.
When Genevieve was 15 years old, she spent a lot of time on crutches. An active kid and an athlete, she began experiencing pain from hip problems. She had to use crutches for several months before and after two separate surgeries that led to her recovery.
As a creative person, she quickly found a solution to the boring look of her silver crutches. In preparation for attending a Mets game, she used tape to decorate her crutches in the team's colors.
This seemingly simple action completely changed Genevieve's perspective on her injury. People commented on her crutches, and suddenly, her injury wasn't front and center. She discovered the decorated crutches made a positive difference in her recovery. That's when she and her mother recognized the therapeutic value of crutches as art. They set out to help others feel this way too.
Today, Genevieve and her mother make several trips a year to Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, to distribute about 18 sets of decorated crutches to amputees.
From the first visit, Genevieve realized she was in the midst of something special. "We walked in and it was absolutely amazing. There's just this higher power. You see the hard work of these men and women and how they want to get back to their normal lives."
And Genevieve hears from the vets how much her efforts help. They always tell her how much the crutches matter, and how they're more willing to use crutches adorned with their favorite team's colors or the colors of their country's flag. And that's important, because even if they have prosthetics, the men and women still need crutches at the start and end of their days – to get in and out of bed, for example.
Each visit to Walter Reed is centered on a particular theme. For example, in the fall, it's football teams. In the early summer, it's patriotic colors. "I love our flag crutches. They're red, white and blue, with blue stars on top," Genevieve says.
It takes about an hour for Genevieve to decorate a single set of crutches. Depending on the theme, she can use up to four colors of tape. And of course, some designs are more complicated than others.
Crutches in the colors of sports teams are very popular. To create them, Genevieve uses three types of tape. She starts with a 3-inch base tape, which makes it easier to apply the additional colors. Then she adds tape in the color of the team – green and white for the New York Jets, for example, or black and yellow for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Usually, a single set of crutches will require about 10 yards for each of the team colors. To create the stripes in her design, Genevieve uses tapes between ¼ of an inch and an inch wide. She then wraps in such a way that the crutches aren't too thick.
Some of Genevieve's creations engage the sense of touch. Her camo design uses gaffers tape, which has a canvas texture, giving the crutches a rugged feel.
For Genevieve and her mother, the ability to help out has been rewarding, and they're proud of what they've accomplished. They should be. It's pretty magical.
To learn more about Genevieve's Crutches and to donate, visit the website, where you can see more examples of the work they do and the people they help.
We encourage you to support their work. And if you're looking for more ways to give back to our veterans and their families, for each purchase you make on FindTape.com between May 22 to May 28, 2015, we'll donate 10% of the total merchandise price to Operation Homefront, a nonprofit serving military families.