(KMOV)-- Kirkwood jeweler Rick Ruderer admits he's a little like the "Seinfeld" character, Kramer. He's always coming up with wild ideas.
He has a good friend (the Jerry in the relationship) who loves to tell him his ideas will never work.
However, some months ago the two were together and Rick told his friend of a plan to take his hundreds of Christmas tree ornaments and get thousands of others donated and sell them all to benefit Backstoppers, the organization that gives financial aid to families of area firefighters and officers killed in the line of duty.
Rick's friend had to admit this time, "that's a great idea."
Rick got the idea soon after the death of State Trooper Dennis Engelhard last Christmas. He drove by that crash scene on the way to Springfield. Days later, he was putting his ornaments away when it came to him.
Now he's got trees with 6,000 ornaments for sale for $3 a piece in 24 businesses (mostly Great Clips and Pulaski banks). The complete list of places you can buy the ornaments or donate some is www.ornamentsforofficers.com. ($1 from each ornament will go to administrative costs as Rick says he's spent $6,000 of his own money getting this off the ground).
His goal is to hand over a $12,000 check to Backstoppers in January, but he's really looking ahead to next year. His hope is before people and businesses put their ornaments away, they decide to donate them instead. Rick will store them all year with the plan of putting them on 200 to 250 trees in that many stores next Christmas season and raise more than 10 times as much money for Backstoppers.
Not a bad way to stay busy during the holidays.
By the way, while a lot of the ornaments on the trees retail for $5 or less... there are a few on each tree that retail for $50 to $100. They can all be had for $3 each. You can give more if you want.
Mark Schnyder is a reporter at KMOV-TV. He can be reached at MSchnyder@kmov.com.