Creativity, activity and service with Project Au

Senior Lin Jin, juniors Alina Zheng and Elizabeth Hung and senior Vicky Zheng sell their handmade jewelry at Suzanne Middle School. “It’s a good way for people to donate and receive something in return,” Hung said. “I wanted to do this for the community.”

It started as a hobby, turned into an online shop and ended as a way for them to give back. Juniors Elizabeth Hung and Alina Zheng and senior Lin Jin put together their passion for creating jewelry and accessories to create the nonprofit Project Au. 

As a part of the International Baccalaureate (IB) program, students must complete their Creativity, Action and Service (CAS) project, which includes different types of creativity, activity and service. Hung, Zheng and Jin decided to start Project Au, a fundraising platform where they sell accessories on their online website then donate the proceeds to charities. 

Project Au, which stands for its mission statement, “All about you,” donates 100 dollars each month to different organizations, depending on the month. Starting in January and February, they donated to the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) and American Heart Association (AHA), respectively. They select the organizations based on the theme of the month.

“Even though it might not seem like a huge amount, when I press the donate button, I know that it’s a collective effort. It’s not just me donating $100 from my own pocket,” Hung said. “It’s really special to me, being able to donate as a whole Walnut community with help from others.” 

The three first met during Chinese school at Suzanne Middle School, where they discovered that they all enjoy making crafts on their own time. They got closer through their Advanced Placement Human Geography class, and when Jin saw an idea for this project on social media, they all decided to get together to make these accessories, including necklaces and earrings. 

“I feel happy because even though it’s harder to share this club with others, it’s a good way for people to donate and receive something in return,” Hung said. “I wanted to do this for the community, which is why we turned this into a nonprofit.” 

The three started out by setting up a store on WeChat, a social media and messaging app. They each specialize in their own areas of accessory making, with Hung making necklaces, Jin making the earrings and Alina being in control of the “Just for you” section of Project Au. “Just for you” is a section of this nonprofit where customers can purchase custom accessories.

“Prior to these necklaces, we would do our separate crafts at home,” Hung said. “We all are experts in our own area, everytime we get orders.”

They get their supplies from an online shopping company titled Taobao, which consists of little stores that they are able to purchase the raw material from. It takes three to four hours for them to finish making the jewelry pieces. 

“If I compare homework to making accessories, I love making accessories rather than [doing] homework,” Hung said. “It’s something I like to do, and it’s something I do for other people, so it’s not for my personal gain. I’m willing to spend the time for this.”

By Flora Lei, Staff writer
Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Hung