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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.

Drawn Together: For the community of Sandy Hook Elementary School

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. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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

  5. 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!

  6. 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”!

  7. 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

  8. 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!

  9. 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!

  10. 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.

  11. 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

  12. 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.

  13. 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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