After a year of doom and gloom, we could all use some good news, right? Well, settle in Chatham. We have just the thing.
Late last year, we heard from arts teachers that many of their students were in dire need of art supplies. They didn’t have paper, pencils, erasers, markers, colored pencils, or glue that they would need during remote schooling. But also, these students needed these supplies when they went back into school –since all children were required to bring in individual school supplies for COVID reasons. These are not only general supplies that students need, but also, resources that can help provide an outlet for children, when words fail them. And we were devastated that students were going without.
At the start of the year, we reached out into the community, and found generous sponsors and kind volunteers who were excited to work with us to help these students in need. With their support, we ordered pallets full of art supplies and gathered in a COVID-safe way to assemble 1,300 art kits for elementary and middle school students plus about 50 high school kits with sketchbooks, paint pens, flair pens, etc. for Chatham County students who are on an arts trajectory and need help procuring these expensive supplies. Now that’s a lot of art supplies!!!
“Assembling art kits, I thought about the joy of ripping open those brown paper bags to reveal some of the wonders within; colorful new markers and pencils, fresh clean drawing pads waiting for that first creative line and color, the smell of the school glue and glue sticks as wondrous collages emerge,” explained Julia Kennedy, artist and project volunteer. “For many children this will be the first time they have the supplies to explore their own creativity which fosters wonders for us all.”
The thing about this project that is even more cool than sharing all of these art supplies with students in need is that the idea for the project was born out of art teachers’ needs for their students. Our goal is to provide service, solace, and hope this year – through everything we do. So as you can imagine, working with teachers to bridge a really specific gap felt really good.
Not long after we delivered these first 1,300 kits to the students at our highest-needs schools, our arts teachers let us know that they would still love to fill needs for kids at other schools in the county, too. We went back out into the community to seek additional support, and we were struck by the amazing generosity in Chatham!
So yet again, with the help of amazing community partners, generous donors, and kind volunteers – including MANY high school students, we were able to create a second round of kits on three separate days in late February. After receiving additional pallets of supplies, high school volunteers and community members reconvened to assemble 1,136 ArtAssist for Kids kits. Teachers at local schools picked up the kits in early March and distributed them to the students who needed them most.
ArtAssist for Kids (round 1 and round 2) is possible thanks to support from Lloyd Grading & Utilities, Opus Financial Advisors, the congregation of Chatham Community Church, Paula Stafford and SoCo, the Pittsboro Rotary Club, Sycamore Steak House, Chatham Mills, Forest Hall, Pittsboro Food Lion, Julia Kennedy Art, and the amazing volunteers who gathered to assemble and deliver the kits! And of course, the CAC is grateful to Chatham County Schools for the long-standing partnership that puts kids first. THANK YOU!