WAY OF LIFE Christian Web entrepreneur enjoys gift of giving baskets

Cindy Shakley's business offers a variety of themed and personalized gift baskets.
LEXINGTON, KY. -- Cindy Shakley says her creativity in giving is a gift from her heavenly Father.
Her dad, the Rev. Al Shakley, also impressed her with his gift for giving.
Giving has become a way of life for Cindy Shakley, 42, of Lexington, Ky., and a 1977 graduate of Liberty High School. She has started an Internet business that focuses on selling gift baskets with individualized Christian messages.
"I love giving presents," says Shakley. "I don't think that in the Christian community we do that enough."
After graduation, she became a self-employed court reporter in Lexington. She said she learned something every day.
Creative business: But in recent years, she felt she should do something else with her creativity. Prayer resulted in her starting her Internet and phone business, www.classysassygifts.com.
She feels that her business fills a void by offering a variety of themed gift baskets, such as for holidays, as well as personalized ones. Either way, each is custom-made.
As a measure of her creativity, she doesn't use baskets in her creations on the grounds that are ordinary. Instead, she uses hatboxes or colorful boxes imprinted with Scripture.
"Why be normal?" said Shakley. "I try to do something different."
She also doesn't do things by half. When she decided to put in a garden, she replaced every bit of grass with flowers. When she decided to get a piano, she went with the Baby Grand.
"If I'm going to do it, I'm going to do it right. I'm going to do it as unto the Lord."
Personalized baskets: Shakley said she often talks to the customer about the personality and interests -- and even the preferred colors -- of the intended recipient.
"I love to talk to people," the businesswoman said.
The result will be books, CDs, or stuffed animals along flowers, chocolate, probably one of Shakley's personal candy bars -- and a message -- geared especially for the recipient.
And Shakley said she prays for the recipient of every basket.
"I am blessed in the blessing," Shakley said.
Her goal is to have a God-honoring business, a goal shaped by the faith and love passed on to her by her parents.
Preacher's daughter: The Rev. Mr. Shakley, of Girard, has retired after serving as pastor at First Presbyterian Church in Girard for almost 40 years. He and his wife Marilyn marked their 44th wedding anniversary Friday.
Cindy Shakley recalled that after the gifts were unwrapped on Christmas, the pastor would produce more just for Marilyn.
He's an exception among men, who normally have trouble in picking gifts, said his daughter.
And on Easter, there would be other gifts for Marilyn as well as Cindy and her siblings, Judy and Becky.
The gifts weren't necessarily extravagant.
"What impressed me was the thoughtfulness," Cindy said.
Gift of giving: Growing up, she spent hundred of dollars on cards each year.
"I thought I would wind up owning a Hallmark store. I thought it would be cheaper," Shakley recalled.
Over the years, hearing comments like, "You were the only one who sent me a card," left an impression on her.
Last year, she began researching the business, lining up suppliers and having her Web site created. Her parents supported her emotionally and financially.
Giving gifts for a living is a great way to live, she said.
"Doing this for other people. That's what brings me joy."
And in giving there are the blessings for all involved, she finds.
"You get it back. You make a friend. You affect someone's life," said Shakley.

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