New Orleans jeweler designs American flag face-mask charm to raise money for homeless veterans

A New Orleans jeweler has designed an American flag face-mask charm to raise money for homeless veterans ahead of Memorial Day, in a patriotic tribute to servicemen and women and front-line coronavirus health care workers.

“My family and I wanted to do something special for our veterans this year, so we came together and collaborated on a charm that would give back to them,” Jose Balli New Orleans Jewelry wrote in a Facebook post that included the charm’s design.

The jewelry shop specializes in custom silver and pearl pieces, and recent items have included a stethoscope charm and a “quarantine kit” consisting of a bracelet and charms depicting a surgical mask, a roll of toilet paper and a small house. Other designs include cufflinks, belt buckles, necklaces, rings and more traditional symbols such as crosses and depictions of local wildlife.

The shop said its new patriotic charm will be available Friday, and pledged 50 percent of its Memorial Day weekend sales to go to the nonprofit Soldier’s Angels to be used toward food assistance for “low-income, at-risk and homeless veterans.”

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Balli did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

As the COVID-19 outbreak continues and unemployment numbers skyrocket, issues that the country is already struggling with have persisted or gotten worse -- including homelessness among veterans and food stability.

According to the Louisiana Department of Health, the state had seen more than 35,000 confirmed coronavirus cases as of Wednesday. At least 2,485 people died from the illness there, and more than 26,000 are believed to have recovered.

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The U.S. has seen more than 1.5 million confirmed cases and more than 92,000 deaths.

Soldier’s Angels -- a charity for veterans, service members and their families -- is headquartered in San Antonio, Texas. It has received high marks from the nonprofit review sites GuideStar and Charity Navigator.