Military Mom supports troops with Bracelets made from Uniforms

KTVB: An army veteran and military mom, Elsa Zarate is passionate about honoring the uniform and the men and women who wear it.

In an effort to raise support for service men and women, Zarate has been working hard to create handmade bracelets, called Bands 4 Courage.

"Everyone is wanting a band now, which is really great because this is what I wanted," said Zarate, who can hardly keep up with the demand for her military bracelets.

The idea was inspired by her son, who is a Marine.

"I made this bracelet out of the back of his uniform when he deployed a couple of years ago," she said. "I just wanted something to remind me of him, to feel that connection."

People started asking her about it, and wanted one too.

"I just started making them and thought hey, what a great idea to get some of these military uniforms, uphold the honor of them and spread awareness to support our military."

That's when Zarate put her plan into action.

"I created a website along with a logo, and my son drove it around in his car in Camp Pendleton and it kind of just spread from there."

Her idea took off, and fast. Members of all branches of the military started donating old uniforms to her.

"Each band has a uniform that's incorporated somewhere in that bracelet," said Zarate. "I try to keep the honor of everything and use everything."

For each donation she gets from a military member, Zarate gives the donor free bands made from their uniform to give to family and friends.

"It's my way of giving back to them."

In addition to making bands honoring each branch of the military, she also makes special bracelets combining the military theme with other causes - like breast cancer awareness, for example.

Each band comes with a certificate of authenticity with information about the military member who donated the uniform.

"So it has the person, the branch and some tidbits about them so you feel more of a connection to the person who did it."

A family from Montana sent their son's uniforms to Bands 4 Courage after he was killed in action.

"He died in Afghanistan two years ago," said Zarate. "It has a really special meaning. I just couldn't believe someone would donate that to me."

She says the bracelets represent honor, and recognizing the sacrifices being made by those who have served, and who are serving right now.

"This is my heart and I'm wearing it on my wrist."

Bands 4 Courage donates 50 percent of bracelet proceeds to military support organizations. The rest goes to materials, shipping and handling.

Zarate is working to get non-profit status and she's always accepting donations of retired military uniforms.

To buy a bracelet or donate a uniform, click here.

(Photos: KTVB)

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