Blog: Drawn Together: A Fundraiser for Newtown, Connecticut

December 16, 2012

Drawn Together: For the community of Sandy Hook Elementary School

My professional life and my blog life have always been separate. Until today.

Many of you know that my days are spent working with children as a pediatric psychologist. We all have our niche in life and mine is working with children.

On Friday afternoon, I sat at my desk and tried to avoid the influx of Facebook posts about the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School. I knew that it was bad and I knew I couldn’t bear reading through the facts. Around 2:00pm, I finally caught up on what had happened. It was worse than I could have imagined. Kids dead. Mourning parents. Survivors. Forever scarred. I just don’t get it.

There have been too many tragedies like this in our country, but I am not in the business of arguing gun laws, school security, or the motives of the gunman. There are other skilled professionals who can do that far better than me. My cause is for the children of Newtown. The kids and survivors who have to process this and make sense of it over the next days, weeks and years.  The kids who had to be escorted out of their school, passing the bodies of their classmates and teachers. The kids who likely have Christmas gifts to give to friends they won’t see again. The kids who will jump every time they hear a pot drop on the floor or a siren, fearing that it’s all happening again. The kids who will have trouble returning to school, worried if they are safe there.

There is absolutely nothing that anyone can do to rewind this disgusting event, but I feel like I must do something and I know many of you feel the same way.

During my graduate and post-grad training, I did some work with grieving children. I am by no means an expert in this area, but I have seen it. It’s tragic and unfair and extremely difficult to process.

Children seldom sit down and just start talking and telling you what’s on their mind. Some do. Most don’t. Most don’t even know what to say…they haven’t figured it out for themselves. Research in the fields of social work and psychology offer significant evidence that art can be a valuable therapeutic tool for children as they work through grief and trauma. Children’s drawings can help them tell their story to adults. Art may offer a healthy coping mechanism for children experiencing difficult emotions. Art can also provide a helpful activity for parents to spend quality time with their children, which is undoubtedly something every parent in Newtown needs right now. It’s with these things in mind, that I’m launching Drawn Together, a chance for us to use our passion for creativity to help, in a small way, to heal the community and children of Newtown, Connecticut.

ThePlanTapeStripThe idea is to assemble at least 50 creative kits filled with art supplies that will be sent to the Newtown Youth & Family Services Center. This center is currently providing counseling and support services to the community and is accepting donations.

Each creative kit will include several items that can be incorporated into the work they are doing with the children and families of Newtown. The kits can also be sent home with children and used with parents to help process this event.

My goal is to assemble and send off the kits during the first week of January 2013.

how-you-can-help-tape-strip

donate-supplies

Vendors, companies and individuals are all invited to donate new & unused supplies to be included in the creative kits. Below is the need list for completing each kit. To meet the goal, we’ll need at least 50 of each item. You do not need to donate all 50 though! Do what you can and we’ll chip away at this list together!

        • Child-friendly stamps (wood-mounted preferred, since clear stamps require acrylic blocks)
        • Black Ink Pads
        • Plain white cardstock
        • Colored cardstock
        • Patterned Paper
        • Small set of crayons
        • Small set of markers
        • Child scissors
        • Watercolor or Acrylic paint
        • Paintbrushes
        • Alphabet stickers
        • Pencils
        • Glitter
        • Glue or Gluesticks
        • Envelopes
        • 50 small canvas tote bags to package each kit

donatedollarsYou can also donate dollars toward creating these kits. Every dollar donated will go toward purchasing supplies for the kits. If the money donated exceeds the amount needed for 50 kits, then we’ll make more! Donations will be open from today, December 16, 2012 through Friday, December 28, 2012. Donations are processed securely through Paypal. Simply click the button below to go to the donation page.




CREATE-A-CARDIt would be nice to include a handmade card in each kit, don’t you think? Create a child-friendly handmade card and send it to me at the address listed at the end of this post. Send one, send ten! Any additional cards that don’t go into the kits will go directly to the Newtown Youth & Family Services center to be distributed. I imagine that children might like to choose a favorite card after their visit to the center. The center could also keep the cards for children who visit them in the future for other services. For themes on the cards, uplifting or all occassion sentiments might be the most appropriate (e.g. Thinking of you, You’re Special). We can’t be sure who these will reach. For the inside of the card, you can either leave it blank or sign it with your name and where you are from. Here are a few greeting card verses that may also be appropriate for the inside of your cards:

Greeting-Card-Verses

Papertrey Ink also offers some great “Thinking of You” sentiments in their Over Under Easy stamp set and  Half & Half stamp set, so feel free to use those as inspiration!

SPREAD-THE-WORD

I’ve never ever done anything like this, mostly because I’ve never felt as heartbroken as I do about what happened in Newtown. Please share this with friends or companies who may also like to participate in some way. This blog is not a big one, but I’d like this to reach as many people as possible. I’d love your help with that.  Use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram…heck…send out carrier pigeons, I don’t care! Let’s work together and do what we can to help!

Grab the graphic below if you’d like to share this on the sidebar of your own blog

Drawn-Together-Button

contactinformation

If you would like to donate supplies, please contact me first via email at:

damaskloveblog{at}gmail{dot}com

Cards and supplies will be mailed to:

Amber Kemp-Gerstel/Drawn Together

P.O Box 310157

Miami, FL 33231-0157

Thanks to each of you for reading this post. I hope you’ll participate. I remember a professor once told me “There is no such thing as true altruism.” I agree. In part, I need to do this to help myself cope, but if my need to cope also helps a few children in Newtown, then I’m okay with that.

142 thoughts on “Drawn Together: A Fundraiser for Newtown, Connecticut”

  1. What an amazing idea, Amber! Friday night, I was sharing w/my mom I wanted to organize a blog hop with other crafters to send out handmade cards to the families involved and the community that has been affected by this devastating tragedy!!! SO glad you are doing this and I want to participate and help, too!!! Still praying for everyone involved in this!!! )’:

  2. Amber, what a heartfelt idea. I would love to help anyway I can. I have tweeted, shared and pinned. I will you email soon, to pledge a donation of supplies. I am sure you will soon have what you need and more.

  3. I love how you decided to take action to help the victims and families! Thank you so much and count on me doing something – I’m starting with looking through my supplies to see what would be good to donate! I will also post this on Facebook.

  4. Hi Amber! I found your blog today through Ellen Hutson,and what a perfect day to do so. This is an amazing idea. I will send some items to you, I have many alphabet stickers that I can send and I am sure I can find other items as well. I will send you an email for the info. Or if you see this first you can contact me at [email protected]
    The only thing good that comes of tragedy like this is how it brings people together. The rest of it is senseless.
    May God Bless you!
    Mary

  5. I love this idea! I made a donation, but still feel like I am not doing enough. As a school teacher, I can’t imagine what these children and teachers are going through. My heart aches and I am still trying to process this. Thank you for sharing and inviting us to participate. 🙂

  6. Amber, I commend you on a wonderful idea!! I am also a child therapist and know the value of giving children tools for self expression -art and play are essential! I think it helps us too to take our feelings of grief, helplessness and sympathy for the victims and families and do something constructive. I will definitely send you some supplies! Thanks for a great idea!!

  7. Great idea! I just filled my cart full of stuff at Blick’s, so I’ll be ready to send when you give an address. Thanks for the opportunity to contribute to such a great cause.

  8. My kids and I are making cards this afternoon. I am heartbroken too. I have a kid in kindergarten. I can’t even fathom him walking past dead classmates never mind him being one of the kids lying dead on the floor. I just can’t go there in my heart. And I adore his teacher. To lose her would be a huge loss to the world. I’m guessing the teachers lost there will be similarly missed. Such sorrow.

  9. I’m IN! I’m still in disbelief over this, but I know I wanted to and have to do something. I will surely be in touch. Thanks for leading the charge on this Amber!

  10. I’m on it ! ! And I’m spreading the word. I’ve got a feeling that, considering how wonderful and giving our crafty community is, that there will be more than 50 kits! What a wonderful plan you have come up with Amber. Thank you for facilitating this for us.

  11. I’m going to donate, as I’m from the UK and getting supplies over to you wouldn’t be an effective use of resources. I’m a teacher in a high school, and school should be a safe place for kids to come, and this tragedy really touched me. I also have two little ones, and so I can’t bear to think how the parents must be feeling. I’ll post this on my blog. Thanks for your idea and leading the way on this project.

  12. You are an inspiration to all of us Amber! I will send off an email to you this evening, and I will share this with my mom’s group that I’m getting together with this evening! We might not be able to send a lot over because we are SAHM of Special Needs children, but we have big hearts and will do what we can to help.
    God Bless you for taking on this fundraiser to help those who really need a little something to help them get through this rough time!

  13. you had better believe I am in on this! In Feb. we had a shooting at the high school where my youngest son was a senior. I can’t even begin to tell you what it does not only to the students, but to the entire community. this latest tragedy has brought it all back again for our little village.

    if I can help even one other family who is going through what we did, then I am more than willing to. I’ll go through my things and gather up what I can to help these children.

    thank you for your willing heart and generosity!

  14. Made a small donation, but will re-check your blog to see if there si more I can do. May God richly bless you for coordinating this much-needed project. Like you, we all feel helpless.

  15. Fantastic idea. As we all sit feeling so helpless, you have instilled an idea that is sure to be appreciated by so many. Our thoughts and prayers are with Newtown, CT and our entire country at this incredibly sad time.

  16. This is a wonderful idea, especially since one little girl’s dad, Emilie, said that she was always drawing and making cards for people who looked sad. My school is currently looking into sending you craft kits, we’d love to help! It would really bring a smile to a lot of children’s faces, and would keep them occupied in this difficult time.

  17. Such a great idea!! I’m definitely going to be making some cards to send in and donating supplies. It will make me so happy to feel like I’m contributing something to help those children affected.

  18. I’m so in. You articulated everything so well an your take action plan is perfect & so appropriate. I’m donating funds next but I have a lot of craft supplies I’d like to donate. Mostly paper. I will email you. Thanks for putting this together!

  19. Amber, this is fantastic. I want to be a part of this. I already shared on Facebook and I will share in a Facebook group I manage called Ohio Scrappers. Please let me know if there is anything else I can do (other than donate time, money and cards.)

  20. You might want to remind people to print in their cards, not write in cursive as kids can’t read it. Some even in kindergarten can read some simple words. I also thought of another couple good things to write in cards.

    Reach across your body with one hand and put it on your shoulder. Do the same with your other hand and squeeze tight. That’s a hug from me!

    You are so brave.

    You are amazing!

  21. This is such a fantastic project and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for organizing it! I would like to donate supplies and cards — and I will share this on PaperMadeBakery’s outlets.

  22. As a teacher of little kinders, this tragedy has truly touched my very core. I would love to be able to send art supplies. Will begin getting together. Thank you for organizing this!

  23. What a wonderful idea Amber, donations, items and cards being sent. Thank you for coordinating this for the community that now belongs to each and every one of us.

  24. We’re expecting 7 to 14 inches of snow tomorrow, so I’m going to spend all day making cards. Then when the snow stops and I shovel my drive, I’m going to the store to get supplies to send. I was thinking about sending money since I’m in Eastern Washington State, and I will do that too, but I wanted to send supplies because I know that making cheerful things brighten my day. God bless the children.

  25. Amber thanks so much for doing this – what a beautiful thing you are doing for this community! It has touched many hearts here in Australia and I can’t imagine the pain those parents and families are going through. I have made a donation and my son and I will make some cards to post over too. Hugs to you.

  26. Amber, thank you so much for doing this; I am definitely going to send supplies. I’ve also put it on my FB page and have already gotten others to help. It’s the least I can do. I am also heartbroken for the families affected by this tragedy and want to do something. Thanks for giving us an outlet. You are truly an angel.

  27. Terrific idea and I’m on board. Newtown is only 40 minutes North of me and I have friend’s who know some of the victims. I will gather items that I have and send them out to you. Thank you for spearheading this and I will share it on my blog today too.

  28. I am so glad I found this! I really wanted some way to help out and this is just perfect! I am working on some cards now and will be sending out some art supplies too. I was also looking for a way to send some cards for the teachers as well, they were all so brave for those kids. If I put some cards in my package for them do you think they would find their way to them?

  29. Fantastic idea! Me and 3 little girls will be helping by donating some supplies and a few handmade cards. I am so glad to have found this, thanks for putting it together. My girls have been wanting to do something for all those poor children and this is perfect! Thank you again. <3

  30. wonderful idea…and putting it on my blog…and hope to donate some supplies..wish I would of seen this yesterday, ad I had 20 grandchildren here all 18 and under, and it was a project we could all work on..6 of them are 6….this had affected all of us!!

  31. Wow…. I am so glad you are putting this together. I will try and see what I can do from my end as well. This is really wonderful of you. I will share this as well and spread the news.

  32. This is such a wonderful idea! Funky Finds is dedicated to promoting handmade. We are spreading the word via Facebook, our blog & our newsletter!!!! Thanks for heading this up. God bless you! Jessica Dougherty, FunkyFinds.com

  33. My heart weeps for those victims and families! Thanks for organizing such a wonderful project Amber! I sent you an email and I will be gathering supplies today!

  34. Amber I totally love this idea… I will send some supplies and have shared this on the cricut message board as well to help pass the word.

    Blessings on this project…

  35. Hi Amber. Thank you for doing this! I am a papercrafter, but also a mom of two wonderful kids. My son has bipolar disorder and everytime one of these tragic events happens, I cringe because of the huge discussions about mental illness that happen and unfortunately, the stigma that is out there. I think this situation in Newtown is affecting everyone in this country. It is a terrible tragedy. I am so glad you found a way to give back to these children and their families. I love the logo you made for this cause. Would you consider putting in on items to sell to raise money for the various funds being developed? I, for one, would be happy to purchase something. Thanks again.

  36. What an amazing idea Amber! I have always believed that art could be healing – it is for me 🙂 I have posted a link on my blog and also shared on FB. I am going to email you right now to see how I can best help. Thanks so much for doing this!

  37. Hey Amber, this is such an awesome idea! I posted this on my personal Facebook and I’m going to blog about it on my blog and the Whisker Graphics blog. I also sent you an email (from my work email) about donating. 🙂

  38. Ok Amber my package is ready for mailing and I’ve posted a link on my personal blog to your fundraiser. It’s a wonderful cause and I’m sure you will be overwhelmed with support from the crafty blog world!

  39. I am in Thank you for letting all of us get in on this to help . SThere are alot of crafty people out here and I know they will be helping if they can. God Bless.

  40. As many others have said, I have been searching my brain trying to figure out a way to “help” those affected in Newton…..no, there is no way to erase the horror of last Friday, but I LOVE this idea and I think it will go a long way to help ease the pain of those affected directly. I donated and plan on having my two kids design cards and will mail them in. THANK YOU so much for doing this. I know I can’t help much, but hopefully my dollars will help a child, if even a little.

  41. Amber, you are awesome for organizing this! Thank you so much for finding a way for us to help. I will send some supplies and a card!

  42. Thanks so much for doing this! I’ve also been thinking about how to use my crafting skills to help these families. I live in Ct just about an hour away from where this tragedy happened and have a daughter in the public school system. It’s been incredibly heart breaking. I thought about some kind of card drive, but wasn’t sure how to organize it. Thanks so much for figuring out how to do it. I’ll try to make some cards and donate funds.

    May you have a blessed holiday season!

  43. What a wonderful, beautiful thing you are doing, Amber. When people ask, “Where was God in all of this”, we can point at people like you and those who step up to help in whatever way and say, “Right there.” Thank you.
    Donating through Paypal and posting on Facebook…

  44. This is truly a wonderful thing you are
    doing. This may even help my tears from falling. I can’t help but think of those children who lost their beautiful lives that day and the ones that have to go on and always have this in the back of their head. May God Bless every one of them and heal their broken hearts.

  45. I was just about to make cards for my niece’s teachers thanking them for all they do in light of what’s happened. This is a great idea too so I’ll just add more cards to my plan 🙂 I’ll donate money too on Friday when I get paid.

  46. What a wonderful idea. I am sending a craft/art set that I purchased to the address you provided above. Hope you can use it. Thank you.

  47. Wow you are incredible for doing this. I would also love to help out. I will dig in my crafting supplies to see what I have so i can donate it. I been wanting to get rid of some of my things and why not for such a great cause that will help out others in need. God Bless you and also all those innocent children.

  48. Hi! It’s Maria again! I’ve gathered up my supplies and it is A LOT! So, honestly, since I’m here in CT – I’m going to just mail it up the the Youth Services center directly, instead of sending down to you in Miami. I hope you don’t mind! THank you for the inspiration and for putting this together! I know it will be a great help to the community! Maria

  49. Hi Amber,I just wanted to make sure you received all of the canvas totes my company sent…saw that they were delivered on Thursday according to the tracking info. From UPS. Thanks! Heather

    1. Thank you for this information, Judy. The town of Newtown is certainly overwhelmed with donations. I have made contact with several private agencies in the area that have replied stating they would very much appreciate our donations. I am also planning to continue this effort throughout 2013 as the donations to this community wane. I would like for Drawn Together to be a long term effort rather than a short term, immediate response to this tragedy. The healing from these killings will continue for years to come and our donations will surely be just as beneficial to the children and families of Newtown 6 months from now as they would be today. Thanks again for your input!

  50. Hi, Amber…I love this idea! Seems like at this point the people of Newtown mostly need some quiet time, out of the spotlight, to regroup and to begin to recover their balance. But there are children in lots of places who have suffered trauma of one sort or another. And children who may not have had any particular trauma, but who still need the opportunity to play, to be creative, to express themselves. There is so much excess these days, in the world of art/craft; we consume more than we create. I love the opportunity to share the wealth of materials and tools with those who can benefit from them…the children, most of all! Please let me know how I can help! Long live ‘Drawn Together”!

  51. Hi, Amber! This is such a amazing idea! Can they still use some cards I don’t know how long you were collecting them for?
    Can they still use papers and stickers?
    My heart aches for what the parents & families are going through just so sad and terrible.
    praying for all of them.
    Thank you
    Michelle

  52. I am just seeing this now. I would love to help and think it would be a great project for my 2 kids and their cousins to do together. Are you still collecting supplies? If yes, great! If no, do you think we could do a collection of our own to send to Newtown?
    Or, have they received enough already?
    Your idea is a fantastic one and inspiring to many as evidenced the in 100+ comments! God Bless you!

  53. Hi Amber, My GF just emailed me a link to your article about Chip It and I began surfing your site. I’m so impressed and I’ve only just begun looking! Charlene asked my question (is project still ongoing?) but could you please elaborate on your answer? Are you needing more of the same supplies in your list? Have any kits been distributed? How did the kids and community react? Please give a brief update so I know the best way to help. Thank you for the brilliance of this and for executing it!

  54. Oops, I jumped the gun. I see you have already answered some of my questions in the comments above. But please let me know what you are needing at this point in time. I’ll be sharing this with all my crafting friends.

  55. I know this if off topic but I’m looking into starting my own blog and was curious what all is required to get setup? I’m assuming having a blog like yours would cost a pretty penny?
    I’m not very internet savvy so I’m not 100% sure.
    Any recommendations or advice would be greatly appreciated.
    Thanks

  56. I do consider all the ideas you have introduced on your post. They’re really convincing and will certainly work. Nonetheless, the posts are very quick for newbies. May you please lengthen them a bit from subsequent time? Thank you for the post.

  57. Greetings! This is my 1st comment here so I just wanted
    to give a quick shout out and say I genuinely enjoy reading your articles.

    Can you recommend any other blogs/websites/forums that go over the same
    subjects? Many thanks!

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