Sandra Bullock, Paula Abdul and Alison Krauss are just a few of the stars wearing the hot new belts by Oklahoma native, Nicole Barr. However it is the cause behind these sought after items that keeps the demand growing. Confronted with a problem and bound to find a solution, Barr and a couple of close friends are taking on child hunger by forming the non-profit organization BELTS (Because Every Life Touches Someone).
Barr has spent her life in some form or another in the fashion world. Recently while in Los Angeles and determined to do something about the growing problem of hunger, she gave away almost 100 of her Swarovaski crystal, horse hair belts in attempt to raise awareness of her cause and introduce the industry to a new fashion. After immediate success, Barr never lost the origin of her determination.
“I grew up in a family where you were just supposed to help other people any way that you could,” she said. “On weekends, as a family, we would all load up bags of apples, bread, bananas and other foods and take them to families that needed them.”
Her mission hasn't changed. Today, working side by side with the Oklahoma Food Bank, the BELTS organization donates 100 percent of all proceeds of all the sales of their belts to the backpack program to assist in feeding hungry children.
“In a state like ours, nobody, especially children should ever have to go hungry,” Barr said. “I think that we are naive about our hunger problem. For whatever the reason, there are far too many people that do not have enough food.”
The backpack program originally began to address a major problem in Oklahoma schools. Each Monday, children are coming to school starving. For many of them, the last meal eaten was during lunch the previous Friday. The problem, for whatever the reason, is many children are not being fed over the weekends. The purpose of the program is to simply distribute backpacks full of non-perishable foods that the children can eat over the weekend. On Monday's, the backpacks are returned and during the week they are refilled and distributed again the next weekend.
BELTS slogan is “one belt feeds one child for one year”. With the sales price of the high quality belts ranging from $125-350, the reality of the slogan is real. “It coast about $135 to feed each child through the backpack program throughout the year,” she said.
In October, Barr fully embraced the cause by writing a check for $50,000. Her contribution allowed for the backpack program to grow and to reach students all over the state. “What I would love to see is Oklahomans rise to the occasion, show their support and realize that child hunger should not go on.”
Perhaps Wendy Thomas, BELTS photographer and advertising designer, explains it best. “This is something really awesome. At the end of it, there is something that is much more rewarding than a paycheck,” she said. “It's not just a job, there is something really big (child hunger) that we are all helping to defeat at the end.”
Style Hollywood Magazine is giving BELTS an award in honor of Barr’s outstanding work with helping children in the United States. The award will be given to Barr on January 10, at the Style
Hollywood Magazine Golden Globe dinner. In attendance will be stars from television and film that are nominated and presenting at the Golden Globe Awards.
However, awards and recognition have never been the determining factor for doing this work. On the contrary, there is an addiction involved with this type of service.
“Once you get that human touch of really helping someone, you are going to want to do it again and again,” said Barr. “In this matter, you are always getting more than you are giving. Think of it as ‘fashion with compassion.’”
There are many ways to help in the fight against child hunger. Log onto http://beltsinc.org/gallery10.17/about.htm and find a way that you can help BELTS put an end to a growing, American problem.