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Fifth grader makes and sells hundreds of cards to support police scholarship

When Rylee Placentino arrived home from school Wednesday afternoon in Harwinton, she found she had a new order of 100 greeting cards to fulfill. 

Rylee has been making greeting cards by hand for the past two years, building on experience she gained from a nearby neighbor, and word has spread quickly in their small town and beyond, resulting in hundreds of orders to date.

The cards, which she sells for three dollars per card or ten for $27, range from birthday cards to thank you, sympathy and holiday cards. “It’s mostly birthday cards and around Christmas, there’s a lot of Christmas,” Rylee said. “I just like making cards.”

Rylee began her card-making business to do something in memory of her uncle, Kristopher Cuddeback, a Dutchess County, New York sheriff’s deputy who passed away in a motorcycle accident in 2015. The Deputy Sheriff Kristopher Cuddeback Scholarship was enacted in his memory to help fund Dutchess County students entering college to pursue law enforcement.

The Placentino family had been making donations to the scholarship fund for years and Rylee decided she wanted to help through making and selling greeting cards. Rylee is assisted by her mother, Torrington school teacher Rachael Placentino, who takes the orders and helps purchase the materials.

Rylee shows off her card-making materials

“Two years ago, we did a fundraiser for Kris, and we made snowflakes to hang on the front door and we were talking about what we were going to do this year,” Rachael said. After Rylee spent an afternoon with a neighbor who also makes cards, Rylee began making cards based on her own ideas, and materials the neighbor gifted to her.

Rachael posted Rylee’s card-making efforts on the town’s local Facebook page and the page for her hometown, Berlin. “We ended getting a lot of orders off the Facebook page,” Rachael said. Although they did attempt an Etsy page, no orders came through that platform. “It’s all by word of mouth.”

“Someone just ordered 28 birthday cards,” Rachael said. “Rylee finished them last night.”

To date, Rylee has raised $800 toward the scholarship through her greeting card enterprise, and orders continue to pour in, as well as donations toward her efforts.

Rylee says she mostly works on the cards at night after dinner and homework, setting up a table in the living room and watch her favorite television show while working on the cards. 

“If I’m into it, I can make them quicker, but if I just want to relax, it takes a little longer,” Rylee said. “We watch this amazing show called Heartland.”

The social media posts resulted in fellow residents donating materials for Rylee’s effort, including, recently, a printing machine for vinyl designs.

 “She had so many people who wanted to donate to her cause, and we’ve gotten so many machines that we really haven’t figured out how to work yet,” Rachael said. “The public has been really, really helpful.”

Greeting card inquiries and orders can be emailed to [email protected]

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Marc E. Fitch, Senior Investigative Reporter

Marc E. Fitch

Marc worked as an investigative reporter for Yankee Institute and was a 2014 Robert Novak Journalism Fellow. He previously worked in the field of mental health is the author of several books and novels, along with numerous freelance reporting jobs and publications. Marc has a Master of Fine Arts degree from Western Connecticut State University.

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