Adults with disabilities offer up holiday gifts that support their businesses

INDEPENDENCE, OH (WOIO) - Attention holiday shoppers: Are you looking for something special for that person on your list who has everything?

Or, how about presents for teachers, coaches and friends?

"The Artful 21" shop located inside the Upside of Downs offices in Independence -- right next to the Independence Post Office -- offers gift ideas that are perfect for just about anyone on your list.

The best part is, proceeds from every purchase goes to help an adult with special needs.

You might call it: "holiday shopping with a purpose."

The 21 in "The Artful 21," stands for the extra copy of the 21st chromosome that people with Down Syndrome are born with, but the shop features the work of people with other developmental disabilities as well.

The store features everything from jewelry to art to fancy mugs to soaps and candles.

Alex Kowalski just started his own business. It's called Dreamers - the coffee he sells matches the name.

Ask Alex how it makes him feel to sell his coffee and tea, and he quickly says, "Yes - so happy."

For the sellers at "the Artful 21," selling their own items is a way for them to find meaningful work.

Laurie Kowalski is Alex's mom and a parent coordinator for the Upside of Downs, which helps adults and children with Down Syndrome.

"Employment rates for individuals with disabilities is, unfortunately, really low. A lot of people have decided to start their own companies and work for themselves. So, this is a really good opportunity for them to showcase their items," said Kowalski.

Melanie DeLuka works at the gift shop. She also sells bracelets and holiday gift tags.

She has this message for anyone thinking of visiting the store: "Come to the store. Buy presents, and come see me."

And, in this season of giving, the present you buy from The Artful 21 means something not just to the person you are buying the gift for, but also the business owner you are buying from.

Click here to start shopping from The Artful 21 online: https://squareup.com/store/the-up-side-of-downs

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