Art is uplifting, which is particularly important given the fear and chaos brought about by the coronavirus pandemic. Thousands are stepping up to help others get through the crisis, and one girl in particular, is being hailed a hero. Chelsea Phaire, a 10-year-old from Danbury, Connecticut, has been using charitable donations to send more than 1,500 art kits to bring cheer to children in foster care and homeless shelters.
Chelsea’s Charity utilizes the donations to provide art supplies and art lessons to children. The main goal of the organization is to support children’s social, emotional, and mental health development through art.
The art kits, which include markers, crayons, paper, coloring books, colored pencils, and gel pens, are sent to schools, shelters, and foster care homes to help children get through the emotional and psychological stress brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.
Overflowing with a love for art and the desire to help others, Chelsea has always wanted to start her own charity. Candace Phaire, Chelsea’s mom, shared, “Since she was seven, she was begging me and her dad to start a charity. She was so persistent, every couple of months she would ask, ‘Are we starting Chelsea’s Charity yet?’ When she was turning 10, she asked us again, and we decided it was time to go for it.”
On Chelsea’s tenth birthday in August 2019, the family formed Chelsea’s Charity. Instead of birthday gifts, Chelsea asked her guests for charitable donations.
The donations from Chelsea’s birthday allowed Chelsea’s Charity to send out 40 art kits to a homeless shelter in New York. Afterwards, the family set up an Amazon wish list full of art supplies.
In five months, the Phaire family sent out 1,000 art kits to children in foster care, homeless shelters, women’s shelters, and schools across the United States who were impacted by gun violence. Each time they received substantial charitable donations, kits were packed up and delivered to children in person. Sometimes Chelsea even taught them tips in art and drawing.
At an age when most children would be more interested in fun and games, Chelsea was motivated to start a charity due to a tragedy in the family. After gun violence caused the death of a close family friend, Chelsea turned her love of art into therapy, which helped her deal with the trauma.
Her own painful experience and healing through art compelled Chelsea to help others who might need help in managing pain and stress.
While physical interactions with beneficiaries of Chelsea’s charitable donations have been curtailed due to the coronavirus crisis, the family continues to mail art kits to children across the country. Since March, Chelsea’s Charity has sent over 1,500 kits to kids in 12 states across the US.
Chelsea said, “I feel good inside knowing how happy they are when they get their art kits. I have definitely grown as a person because of this. Now my dream is to meet every kid in the entire world and give them art. Who knows, maybe if we do that and then our kids do that, we’ll have world peace!”
Chelsea hopes that art will help other children like her cope with their feelings and sense of distress. Her mother, an early childhood education professor and former teacher, stated, “Art therapy is being prescribed a lot more to support the mental health of young kids, especially those with social and emotional deficiencies.
Now with Covid-19, a lot of kids in shelters and also children in foster homes might not have access to art supplies they usually find in school. It’s also mental health awareness month, so that’s definitely motivating us to ramp it up and send even more kits.”
Chelsea’s charitable donations also support other non-profit organizations, such as James Storehouse, which serves children in foster care “from cribs to college.” Stacy DeWitt, James Storehouse executive director, said the art kits have a great help to foster parents who have children at home due to quarantine protocols.
“When a child or youth enters foster care, they usually have no belongings of their own. It’s been a great addition to be able to offer the art kits, so the children and youth have a creative outlet to process their emotions during this traumatic time in their lives.” De Witt added, “It gives the children and teens a fun creative outlet to channel their energy because they can’t be in the classroom right now. Chelsea’s kits have been a blessing to many children in hard places and have brought them joy.”
Chelsea continues to solicit donations to help more children cope with homelessness and the additional burdens brought on by the global pandemic. See more of art superhero Chelsea’s inspiring story and efforts to support others on Chelsea Charity’s website, Instagram, and Facebook page.