FRISCO, Texas — On the first official day of fall, Amy Coolidge is sitting at a dining room table surrounded by strands of ribbon stretching several feet, a box of artificial bums and more glitter than you've likely ever seen in one place.
"It's ridiculous," Coolidge said. "Mums are ridiculous."
It's high school homecoming season in Texas, and she is on mum duty.
"We love them because they're so ridiculous," Coolidge said.
The mums and garters she and her fellow Frisco Sage members are making won't just exchanged between dates to the dance. They're final products will be sent to schools in Frisco ISD to be given to students in the special needs programs.
"We ask the teachers of the program," Coolidge said. "We say, 'Hey, we're here. We know that there's Best Buddies. We know that there's Partner P.E. If you have an organization that's doing it, let us know and we'll get you a little kit.'"
Coolidge said all the group needs to know is how many students there are, and they will either make them mums and garters or help get supplies to the people making them.
For Coolidge, this project started when her daughter Madison had a "buddy" in the program and went to high school.
"I was like 'Hey, he needs a mum. I’m going to make him a mum,'" she said.
She said she reached out to a coach to see how many students were in the program and decided to make them for the whole class. Fast forward to her own daughter going to high school, and her group now serves all of the district's high schools.
Madison Coolidge graduated earlier this year but said she remembers the feeling of giving her buddy one of the homemade mums.
"She was so excited to receive it," Coolidge said. "She was smiling and playing with it. I love seeing the joy and the experiences that some kids don’t get to have. Some kids don't get to go to homecoming. Some kids don't get to have a mum or a garter."
Coolidge's brother has autism. This year, she is working to transform one of her high school mums into a garter for him to wear this year.
"I wanted to give him something that used to be mine," Coolidge said. "I'm really excited to see his face. I'm really excited to give it to him."
For their mother, this is why she started making the special mums in the first place.
"As a parent, you just don't always get all the feels when you have a kid with special needs," Coolidge said, "You just don't always get the warm fuzzies of inclusion."
With each streaming ribbon, hot glut-attached sparkly letter and football-toting teddy bear, they're working to change that.
"I want to say, 'I see your kid, and I want them to go to homecoming and have an inclusive experience,''' Coolidge said.
Once Frisco Sage finishes the mums and garters, they're distributed to the schools and personally gifted to each student by their assigned buddy.
If you are interested in donating supplies, craft store gift cards, old mums and garters or monetary donations, you can reach out to email@example.com.