Vanessa’s Sustainable Gift Wrapping: Supporting Parkinson’s Research One Present at a Time
Tuesday, 21st November 2023

At Shake It Up, we are passionate in our belief that everyone has the power to make a difference. While some of our fundraising heroes take on athletic challenges, others host community events, and many embrace a personal hobby or creative pursuit as a way of raising funds and awareness for Parkinson’s. We spoke to our supporter Vanessa, who has done just that in creating ‘Prezziesax’, a fun and sustainable alternative to gift wrapping.

Tell us all about Prezziesax for Parkinson’s! How did you first start creating these?

I was walking back from the gym one day and started thinking about how much gift wrapping paper we waste at Christmas time. In the past I have made cloth bags to put all sorts of things into but it occurred to me that they would also make marvellous, re-usable, sustainable gift bags. Within days of having the thought, I sent a survey to friends and family to see if they thought it was a good idea and to find out what prices might be reasonable. Research is important! With a big thumbs up from everyone I set to work.

Like many people who enjoy sewing, I had a large stash of fabric sitting around not doing much. I’ve also hoarded ribbon for years. Using my own materials I put together a collection of sizes and designs and invited family, neighbours and friends to afternoon tea (fresh baked scones with jam and cream will get just about anyone in). I displayed my first batch of Prezziesax, and much to my surprise, I nearly sold out.

Before too long I’d used up all my supplies and advertised for donations of fabric. My call was answered by a lovely woman who gave me a huge pile of fabric. Two of my neighbours in the apartments where I live have also donated. But recently I’ve had to buy fabric to keep up with demand!

Why did you choose to fundraise for Parkinson’s research and Shake It Up Australia?

From the beginning I’d decided to donate all the profits to Shake It Up. Research is the only way that a cure and better treatment for Parkinson’s will be found, and Shake It Up is completely focused on funding research.

I have Parkinson’s myself. So did my father and brother, who both died aged 67. Genetic testing confirmed my belief that my Parkinson’s was genetic. I have a mutation on the LRRK2 gene. Sadly, one of my children also tested positive. That was my motivation to make Prezziesax a success, so that in my own small way, I was contributing towards an end to Parkinson’s – if not for me, then for my child.

What would you like people to understand more about Parkinson’s?

Parkinson’s is not well understood by the average person. Through Prezziesax I’ve been able to raise awareness about Parkinson’s and help people understand that it isn’t just elderly people shuffling and shaking, it affects a whole range of age groups with a vast array of symptoms.

What is your advice for someone else wanting to do something to make a difference?

My fundraising idea came out of the blue. It is simple but effective. My secret weapon is my husband who promotes Prezziesax (and their cousin, Booziesax, for wine gifts) to anyone who will listen. Through his advocacy, the coffee shop over the road now has a display of both products for sale, and every one of his many friends has been canvassed. As a result, I’m pretty busy!

Even if I’m having a bad Parkie day, sewing to raise funds for Shake It Up makes me happy. Spreading the message is a good feeling too. A simple idea like making cloth bags and giving them silly names can really make a difference. I’d encourage anyone with a streak of creativity to let their imaginations run riot. You’d be surprised how effective a simple idea can be.

Research is the only way that a cure and better treatment for Parkinson’s will be found, says Shake It Up fundraiser Vanessa. That's why she makes sustainable gift wrapping to raise funds for Parkinson's. #PrezziesaxForParkinsons Click To Tweet

Get in touch with Vanessa to make a purchase, or follow her journey here on Instagram @prezziesax_for_parkinsons