Spring Street Holds "Month of the Elephant" to Benefit Endangere - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Spring Street Holds "Month of the Elephant" to Benefit Endangered Species

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Elephant painting hanging at Spring Street Elephant painting hanging at Spring Street

The owner of a Charlottesville boutique is trying to tackle more than fashion this month - she's trying to raise money for an important cause. Spring Street on Charlottesville’s downtown mall is hosting several events with the goal of raising money to help save an endangered species.

Spring Street owner Cynthia Schroeder has deemed March "The Month of the Elephant." She's hosting dinners, fashion shows, and presentations to raise awareness and money to donate to a preservation nonprofit.

"I always loved animals," said Schroeder. And that's why she said it was so disheartening to learn about how elephants are poached for their ivory tusks. "I decided I needed to do something about it in my own small way," she said.

In many countries, elephants’ ivory tusks are a status symbol and sign of wealth. "People are willing to spend a lot of money for it to make sculptures, jewelry, just to have it," said Schroeder. "A lot of the areas have taken drastic measures to stop the poaching, but it's still a problem."

"If we don't protect them this endangered magnificent species, they will be gone within a decade," she said.

This month, Spring Street has clothes, jewelry, stationary, and other items with elephants on them for sale. Part of the proceeds from the sale of those items will go toward the fundraiser.

There will also be several guest speakers who have witnessed the atrocities of poaching for profit. One of the speakers, Liza Grubanau, grew up in South Africa and said she had to ride elephants at a ranch armed with a rifle when she was young to protect herself from poachers. She will share an "inside" look and Schroeder said that presentation will not be for the faint of heart.

Other fundraising events include a dinner at the Shebeen restaurant in Charlottesville and a fashion show at Spring Street.

The funds raised through the events and through the sale of elephant items in store will all go toward the Orphan Elephant Program of The David Scheldrick Wildlife Trust.

"They had a lot of wonderful programs, but the most special to me was the orphan program and they successfully rehabilitate orphans who have lost their mothers and families mostly to poaching and sometimes they've been stranded," said Schroeder.

In fact, Spring Street has actually adopted an orphan element named Quanza from that nonprofit. Quanza's mom was killed right in front of her in 2011 in Tanzania. According to the David Scheldrick Wildlife Trust, that's currently one of the main hot-spots for poaching in Africa.

The first event for Spring Street's "Month of the Elephant" is a presentation by Erwan Bancok, a 90-year-old man who goes on expeditions in Africa several times a year. Wednesday night at 6 p.m. he will be at the store to talk about his adventures with elephants.

Spring Street's Facebook Page lists all of the events held during the Month of the Elephant. For more information, click here. 

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