Gift For Life: Still united in the fight

Where were you in 1992? If you were in the gift industry, chances are you knew someone who was affected by AIDS. For a small group in the industry, led by Peter Schauben, they couldn’t just sit by and watch the devastating toll AIDS was taking.

In 1992, the pandemic of AIDS had become extremely visible in the gift, stationery, and home industry, said Schauben. “Many friends, colleagues and associates were no longer there — it was apparent they were dying of AIDS,” he said. So, he sat down and penned a letter to 60 members of the industry, got them to put their differences and competition aside, and come together to find a way to make a difference in the world. Gift for Life was created and has united the industry to fight AIDS.

Fast forward 28 years. AIDS is not over, but the young people in the industry probably don’t know anyone living with the disease or know someone who has died from the disease. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist and it’s up to those who do remember to keep up the fight for research and awareness. Approximately 1.1 million people in the U.S. are living with HIV today, and about 15% of them (1 in 7) are unaware they are infected. An estimated 38,700 Americans became newly infected with HIV in 2016.

Immense progress has been made in the last 28 years. Gift for Life has raised more than $5 million for AIDS research and education, and HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and, we have the tools available to end the HIV epidemic, giving us a once-in-a-generation opportunity to end the epidemic. Landmark scientific research has led to many successful HIV treatment regimens, prevention strategies, and improved care for people living with HIV. There is finally hope but it is very expensive. Until care is affordable for those who must live with the disease there is still work to be done – all the more reason to not slow down until this is accomplished.

Thank you, Peter Schauben, for your continued passion for the cause. And thank you to current board president Matt Katzenson for leading the volunteer board of directors as we navigate the future. It is an honor to serve alongside these industry leaders. I hope you will consider participating in the GFL industry events, award galas, cause marketing, and auctions throughout the year. To kick off 2020, join us in Atlanta for the Party for Life on January 15 at the Fernbank Museum. We are so excited to welcome celebrity designer and Honorary Chairman Thom Filicia to host the event and we will be recognizing gift visionary Anne McGilvray, recipient of Gift for Life’s 2020 Chuck Yancy Lifetime Achievement Award. Learn more about Gift for Life and Party for Life in the new Winter 2020 issue of Gift Shop here. See you there!

-Julie McCallum

Editor-in-Chief and GFL board member


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