Our project has been underway since before this fundraiser campaign started. So, I am updating this page to share what we have accomplished SO FAR and share our plans for the upcoming months.
Thanks to in-kind donations, direct donations from other sponsors, and the donations from gofundme we exceeded our initial goal. As of March, we have curated 95 tie-dye kits for kids to use in their hospital rooms. We have been asked to make 20-25 tie-dye kits for each virtual class that I teach each month. We have created a variety of art kits from Kindness Creatures to Tween/Teen Woven Journals and so many things in between. All tie-dye and craft kits include gratitude cards and Acts of Kindness checklists. As of March, we have decided to add small journals and Gratitude and Reflection journal prompts to every kit. The kits just keep getting better. We are offering ways to empower the kids and organically raise their happiness levels through Art, Gratitude, and Giving Back.
I have been volunteering by leading tie-dye workshops for the kids at Hopkins since 2016. We have also taken our mobile unit to tie-dye with kids at a JHCC summer picnic.
BUT NOW because of COVID, the kids are no longer allowed to leave their rooms for Child Life Activities.
These children are in isolation. That means they confined to their room during their hospital stay. This could be anywhere from one day, two weeks, 3-months, or more.
Why these curated kits are such a big deal:
Each kit not only includes the necessary items to complete the art projects, it includes tools to complete projects, it includes the tools to empower the kids.
How do our kits empower the kids who are isolated at Johns Hopkins Children's Center?
EVERY tie-dye kit and craft kit include gratitude notes with a prompt encouraging the kids to "be the sunshine" by writing notes to parents or hospital staff who they want to thank. We also send an "Acts of Kindness" Checklist in each kit. One of the "Acts of Kindness" is to "Create some art and give it away."
Science has proven that expressing gratitude raises happiness for the one (in this case, one of the kids) who is expressing gratitude or thanks. Giving back not only brings them happiness, it empowers them to know that even though they are isolated in their rooms and not feeling their best, they can still give back and spread joy. THAT IS SOME POWERFUL MEDICINE!
Some of the kits (all of the tween kits) include journals that the kids can decorate and use the prompts provided to record their feelings, thoughts and moments of gratitude. AGAIN, this is some powerful stuff!
My team has been comprised of artists who have lost income due to COVID, students, friends, family and community volunteers.
This project helps the patients and our art community.
The first virtual tie-dye party and craft kit distribution was in November 2020.
We have a good start on supplies and donations from partners, but we keep running out of basics like scissors, journals, and sketchbooks.
We want to include the journals and some sketch books in each kit. We simply do not have enough to do that. That is a shame.
My dream is to provide Big Life Journals to every kid who receives a kit from us.
These journals are designed to instill a growth mindset in kids ages 4-teens. Each journal is $25 ($1,500.00)
Tie-dye kits cost about $30 each. ($1,800.00)
Gregory, opening his tie-dye kit missed the live broadcast. But he is preparing his kit so that he can follow the recording. Sometimes kids miss the live broadcast due to visits from their doctors or being out of their rooms for medical procedures. I am grateful that they have the option to tune in even if they miss the live broadcast! (He asked his mother to take this photo to share with all of you! He wants to thank you for your support!)
The Be the Sunshine kits we have already made are bursting with other supplies.
we need additional supporters to help make this program happen.
If you are interested in purchasing the supplies we need for our craft kits, here is the link:
Please know we are not working alone. A project this big takes a community.
We have partnered with the non-profit Art Works Now and have the support and inspiration from other non-profits too.
(In no particular order...) Thank you to Beltway Office Solutions (we make a lot of xerox copies!!, Tino's Italian Bistro (for soooo many supplies including the pizza boxes we send many kits in), Jen Sterling (aka Fine Art and Jen Originals) for designing our "Be the Sunshine" logo, Healthy Little Cooks for use of their studio and equipment to broadcast my virtual class to the kids at Hopkins, The Spread Sunshine Gang for providing 60 sets of paintbrushes, Power 52 for the Olaf lights and batteries and copies of the glow cubes, and our other sponsors Doodle Hatch, Paintings by Morgan, and the Child Life Department at Johns Hopkins Children's Center.
Thank you to all of our supporters who already donated funds and materials for our project. We appreciate your generosity.
Barbara Johnson, Executive Director of the non-profit Art Works Now understands the importance of art for the kids:
"I am so proud that our team at Art Works Now is partnering with Erin Cassell
(Erin is one of our great teaching artists!) to support her work bringing art activities to the kids at Johns Hopkins.
Johns Hopkins’ kids unit was an important part of my young life. Both my niece Tracy
and my sister Beverly spent a lot of time there as patients. I spent a lot of time there visiting (and once played guitar while my friend Julie sang for the kids).
I had to jump at the chance to bring Erin’s project to our team. She’s doing such good work for these beautiful kids."
Peyton Pike, the Director of Child Life for Johns Hopkins Children's Center had this to say:
"Your kits are making a difference - everyone loves them, they are so incredibly done!! We can't thank you enough!"
After our most recent class, she shared that, "One specialist told me that after your tie-dye workshop the next morning when she came into the patient's room the patient said, "OK it's tomorrow is my tie-dye ready?" because she was so excited to see it!"
(Here is a sneak peek of some items in our Be The Sunshine: Kindness Kits)
Thank you for helping us empower the children to BE the Sunshine for themselves and to those around them.
Follow Morgan Create With Colorful Abandon Power52 Foundation Tinos Italian Bistro
Art Works Now The Spread Sunshine Gang Doodle Hatch Be The Sunshine Logo by Jen Sterling
Howard County Maryland Volunteens
- Karl Turban
- Tina Thomas
- Gillian Collins
- Matthew Sampson
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