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My 2013 Art Journaling Classes for At-Risk Children

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Greetings!  Today I’m pleased to share photos from my recent visits to six different Southern California classrooms.  I provided art supplies (with help from many of you!), and taught an Introduction to Art Journaling to at-risk 4th graders.  My students are often facing a number of challenges, and I introduce them to Art Journaling in the hopes that it will help them cope, process their feelings, and express themselves in positive ways as they continue on in life.  I also know that art journaling helps their overall academic experience, and helps to develop their creativity.  Art journaling is a positive thing all the way around!

This year I taught in two classrooms in Ontario, and four classrooms in Santa Ana.  Through the generosity of dozens of kind and generous people, I was able to provide approximately 200 children with their own art supply kits, which will be used all school year and then taken home at the end of the year so the kids can keep creating.

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Preparing the Art Supply Kits
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The school in Santa Ana gathered parent volunteers to assemble the 125 kits we’d need in order to bring art journaling to their entire 4th grade.  The school purchased the journals, scissors, glue sticks, crayons, and plastic bags.  I (we) supplied the rest of the goodies, and the kits were ready to go when I arrived to teach.  Teamwork!  :]

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For the 80 Ontario class kits, I was lucky enough to have four friends come over and help assemble the kits.  Work that would’ve taken me an entire day working alone was completed in under two hours by the five of us – it was such a great help, and was fun to boot.  We got to visit, assemble, and eat some goodies.  I’m not above plying my team with things like homemade almond brittle to keep them happy.  :]  Big thanks to AC, LC, AT, and VT for your time and efforts!

What the Schools Received
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In addition to providing materials for the art journaling students, the schools received many other supplies and tools!

Ontario

2 carloads of assorted art/craft supplies, including several reams of paper
1 Big Shot die cutting & embossing machine (kindly donated by Ellison/Sizzix)
A box of assorted dies (kindly donated by Ellison/Sizzix)

Santa Ana

5 boxes of assorted art/craft supplies
1 box of Post-it notes
1 bag full of ball point pens
1 Big Shot die cutting & embossing machine (kindly donated by Ellison/Sizzix)
A box of assorted dies (kindly donated by Ellison/Sizzix)

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In the Classroom
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The children were so enthusiastic about their art supplies and the opportunity to create!  They dug right in, and had a wonderful time creating their first two art journal pages while I was there – a page about five of their favorite things, and a collage page.  As always, I was delighted by the things they created, and loved the inventive ways they used the materials.  One little boy used a paper doily and crayons to create a lion’s head!

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Letters from My Students
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I received thank you letters from one of my Ontario classes the other day – what a treat!  I love the letters and drawings I receive from my students each year.  They’re among my most treasured possessions!  Here are excerpts from a handful of letters I received on Tuesday – I’ve corrected some grammar and spelling in the interest of clarity:

“Thank you for all of the supplies and for teaching us another way to express our feelings.  Not to punch, not to slap, but to draw a picture to calm you down a little.  And also, thank you for spending your time with us and the other classes.”

“Thank you for showing your journaling to the class and now I like art way more than I liked it before.  Because now I know that you can do art with just a pen or pencil and art can be about anything you want it to be.”

“Thank you for teaching us art.  It was fun, exciting, and it was colorful.”

“I think it is very nice of you to come and teach us a new way to express our feelings and do new things.  Now I express my feelings in a different way because of you.”

“The best idea that I like is to recycle paper and wrappers, like the peanut and jelly sandwich wrappers.”

“I never knew I could get out my feelings by drawing a picture. Thank you for all you have taught us about art.”

I was so pleased to read these passages.  I make it a point to emphasize that journaling is a great way to express one’s feelings – both good and bad – in my introduction class, and these letters let me know that the message was received.  And because many of my students are from low-income families (as I was when I was a child) I’m sure to let them know that art can be made from the simplest of things – they don’t have to have expensive (and possibly out of reach) supplies to create.

The Schools Can Make Use of All Types of Supplies!
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I just have to share a few non-art journaling photos I took at the school in Ontario. They used of some of the assorted arts and craft supplies I’d passed along when it came time for the children to create dioramas. This is why I’m very happy to accept donations of “other” art/crafting supplies, even if it’s not a perfect fit for art journaling.

The first diorama include a tree made from fabric and yarn.  The second picture shows clouds made from packing foam, rocks made from egg crates, and ocean plants made from yarn.  I love these – they’re a perfect example of what children can do with opportunity and supplies. :]  The schools use these assorted art and craft supplies for all kinds of things – from handmade greeting cards to paper robots and science projects.

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Thank You SO Much!
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I offer big thanks to everyone who donated supplies, gift cards, or funds to my students.  This program truly does make a difference, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for helping me to bring art instruction and supplies to these children.  I’ll be sure to post photos from the end-of-year art journal shows that will take place in May and June.

I accept donations year-round, so if you’re paring down your art/craft stash and would like to donate the items to my students – or if you’re inspired to provide new supplies for them via gift card or check – please contact me.  Everything gets put to great use, and is appreciated by the students, the teachers, and the school staff and administrators.  And me!

Warm regards,
Melody

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Haiku: For the Love of Art

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Color, shape, writing –
nurtures their hearts, minds, spirits.
Love lending a hand…

Today’s haiku refers to the art journaling classes I volunteer-teach to at-risk public school students.

I’m pleased to announce that I’ll be teaching six classrooms of at-risk 4th graders this school year – two in Ontario today, and four in Santa Ana over the next two weeks.  My heart is very happy that approximately 200 children will participate in my little program this year.  That’s a big jump from the 30 per year that I started with, and is even a big jump from last year’s 115!  Woo hoo!

Huge thanks to all who donated to my program for this school year – and for any other school year, for that matter!  I appreciate you helping me to bring some creative goodness to children who need it.  I’m thankful for the support you’re giving my program and my students.  I’ll be sure to post a write-up and some photos from my time in the six different classrooms after I’ve completed my initial visits to the schools and classrooms.

With thanks and a happy heart,
Melody

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Art Journal Shows for My 2012-2013 Students!

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I recently had the pleasure of attending Art Journal Shows for all three classrooms of students I taught and brought supplies to this school year.  The shows for my Ontario students took place on May 16th, and the show for my Santa Ana students took place on June 4th.  All three shows were fabulous!  I wish you could’ve been there at the shows with me, dear readers.  There’s almost nothing better than seeing proud students showing off their artwork – full of excitement, enthusiasm, and pride.

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As you may remember, these children are “at-risk” and often face a number of challenges in their lives. It’s my pleasure and mission to be able to bring a positive form of self-expression to them, and I hope that art journaling will be a tool they use for the rest of their lives.  On a more basic level, my program provides art materials and education that are lacking in many public schools, and it’s a thrill to see the children respond so positively to this creative medium.  The art journaling program gets them excited about their overall educational experience, and allows them to demonstrate their creativity and knowledge in wonderful ways.

Here are some of the pages that were created by my 2012-2013 students.  They were all 4th graders, and they did a fantastic job!  They never fail to impress me with the inventive ways they use the materials they receive. For example, one artist used a business envelope to create a house on her page (below) .  The envelope’s window is the house’s window, the girl in the house is behind the window, and the artist even added fabric pieces for curtains!  :]

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THANK YOU!
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I offer my most sincere thanks to all of you who donated supplies, funds, or gift cards. I truly can’t do this without your help, and appreciate your enthusiasm and support for what I do.  The kids are always SO thankful for the supplies and for the chance to create, and I must pass on their thanks to you. Thank you – thank you – thank you!

The photo below features a journal page one of my Santa Ana students created to thank me – she included bits and pieces of many of the supplies included in her art supply bag.  However, she’s not just thanking me with that page – she’s thanking every person who donated – every person who helped spread the word about the art supply drive.  :]

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Exciting News – Expanding the Program!
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I visited with the principal at my Santa Ana school during the Art Journal Show, and he expressed interest in expanding the program during the next school year.  We laid tentative plans to add my art journaling program to three more classrooms at the school next year – to bring art journaling to ALL FOUR 4th GRADE CLASSES!  Obviously this will require more supplies, resources, supply kits prep time, etc., and it’ll be a challenge, but I’d love to make it happen and am excited by the prospect.  It made my heart SO happy that the principal sees the value, wants to expand, and is committed to bring the arts to more students.

I also hope to teach one or two classrooms of 4th graders at my Ontario school.  If I’m able to pull off a total of six classes between the two schools, over 200 at-risk children will benefit.  :] I’m crossing my fingers – please wish me luck!

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My Upcoming Art Supply Drive
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Historically my annual art supply drive has been in September or October, but this year I’m going to move it up in hopes that some of my wonderful and generous donors will take advantage of back-to-school sales.  Basics like crayons, glue sticks and pencils are often priced super low during these back-to-school sales, so I’ll be switching my art supply drive to August and September.  Please keep my students in mind if you hit these types of sales – we’d so appreciate your support!  And please remember that I happily accept donations year-round, so if you’d like to donate now you’re more than welcome to.  :]

Warm regards and many thanks,
Melody

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My Recent Art Journaling Classes for At-Risk Kids!

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As you know, I gather art supplies, gift cards, and monetary donations in order to provide at-risk public school children with art instruction and supplies.  This year’s donation drive went well, and I was thrilled to have enough supplies to teach three classrooms of students for the first time ever – this is one more classroom than last year/ever before.  Woo hoo!  Three cheers for all my donors!

I taught all three of my classrooms over the past two weeks, two in Ontario and one in Santa Ana, and it all went incredibly well.  The kids are always SO excited to get to learn about art and to actually do it, and they take to the art and writing involved in art journaling like little baby duckies to water!  They’re super excited when they each get their art supply kits, and are especially happy when they learn that they get to keep all the supplies and take them home at the end of the year.  It was a thrill for me to see all the kids so excited, happy, and engrossed in the activity.

Many of these kids don’t have anything like this in their lives, which makes it that much more important to them.  In fact, in one class, two girls sitting next to each other were overheard saying, “I’ve never had this many art supplies!” and “I think I might cry!”  (Happy tears, mind you.)  All the teachers I talked to were very thankful, too, saying they’d never be able to provide/buy the supplies they received.  In addition to the three classes I teach in, at least five more teachers received boxes of assorted supplies to share with their classes.

FUN STATS
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Here are some numbers for you, so you can get an idea of what all went on, and how many supplies were passed on to schools that desperately need them:

Number of people that donated supplies, gift cards, or funds between June 2012 and December 2012: 31
Number of boxes and bags of assorted supplies that went to the two schools: 20
Number of art supply kits provided, so each child would have their own set of supplies: 125
Number of individual pieces/items in each art supply kit: 60+
Total number of 4th grade classes I taught: 3
Number of children who’ve received the gift of art via my program this year: over 85

Awesome, right?  I’m so thankful that so many of you lent a hand and helped me provide for the kids.  I can’t do this alone, and am so pleased so many of you got involved!  :]

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A truck full of supplies – and this was only some of what I was able to take out to the schools!

Here are some photos from the three classrooms I taught.  I don’t show the faces of our budding artists for privacy/safety reasons, but I’m sure you’ll agree that the art speaks for itself.  These images are of their very first art journal pages and journal covers.

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I hope you’re as charmed by their artwork as I am!  I’ll be returning to both schools before the school year ends to have art journal shows for the children, and will be sure to share photos from both events here on my blog.

If you’re interested in donating supplies to help bring art, writing and positive self-expression to children in need, please contact me.  I accept donations year-round, and appreciate any supplies, gift cards or funds I can get since I have no budget, volunteer my time, and provide some of the supplies.  Thank you for your consideration. :]

Warm regards,
Melody

 

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My Santa Ana Art Journaling Students Made the Newspaper!

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As I mentioned in a recent post, a reporter and photographer from the Orange County Register attended the Art Journal Show for my Santa Ana students.  The resulting article was published last Thursday, and started on the front page of the paper – wow!  I thought I’d provide the link to the online version of the article, in case you’d like to read it.

Please note that you can see more photos from the day by clicking on the More Photos button that’s located in the lower right corner of the main photo displayed at the top of the page.

http://www.ocregister.com/articles/nuez-361960-art-kids.html

I’m very thankful that reporter Theresa Walker and photographer Paul Rodriguez were able to visit Wilson Elementary on the day of the art journal show.  The story and photos are wonderful!

I’m also thankful to Principal Norris Perez and teacher Stephanie Carey for welcoming me to Wilson Elementary. It was such a pleasure to work with them, and to share art journaling with the children.  I’d also like to thank everyone who was interviewed for the article.  Thank you for your input and support!

Have you seen the new video for the art journaling program yet?  You’re welcome to take a peek – it’s got footage and photos from the Art Journal Show at Wilson, and photos from the Art Journal Show in Ontario. Big thanks to Bad Bunny Studios for producing it!

Warm regards,
Melody

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Art Journal Shows for My 2011-2012 Students!

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I have such exciting things to share, including TWO art journal shows for my 4th grade students, a brand new program video, and an upcoming article about my art journaling program in the Orange County Register!  Woo hoo!

First things first – I’m thrilled to report that my 4th grade art journaling students did an excellent job in their journals this year. It was my privilege to attend an Art Jounaling Show in Ontario on May 18th and an Art Journaling Show in Santa Ana on June 8th. The children were super enthusiastic, they created wonderful works of art, and they all thrived in the art journaling “environment”.  Please take a peek at our new and improved program video here, which features both photos and video from the school year – including testimonials from participating teachers and one of the school’s principals.

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This program allowed the children to develop their creativity, it enriched their academic experience and helped develop language skills, and gave them a positive form of self-expression – one I hope they’ll use in the years to come.  Aside from all that, they had a blast!  They were excited about working in their journals whether they were working on “free pages” or creating pages related to their school curriculum.  And though they all received the same types of supplies, their individuality and distinctive thought processes were clearly visible – each child put their own unique spin on the assignments and used the materials in wonderfully creative ways.

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During my recent visits to the schools I spoke to teachers and to one school principal, and I heard similar things from all of them. They confirmed that these students are receiving the benefits I’d hoped for when I taught my first classroom of children back in 2003: art journaling nurtures their creativity and gives them access to art instruction and supplies that aren’t in the schools’ budgets.  It gives them a positive way to express their thoughts and feelings, and often provides insight for the school staff to better help nurture a student.  It also gives students another way to be successful and to gain confidence at school, since not all students excell academically or athletically.  In short, art journaling is making a significant difference in the lives of these young children.  Victory!

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The students and and school staff were all very enthusiastic and thankful, and I must pass a huge thanks on to all who donated, rooted me on, or both.  I can’t do this without your help, and thank each and every person who lent a hand.  Whether you spread the word about my Art Supply Drive by re-tweeting, sent me a Michael’s gift card, or sent a box of supplies pulled from your own stash of goodies, you helped provide a wonderful experience to over 65 public school children this school year.  Thank you!

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By the way, we had some special guests at our Santa Ana Art Journal Show.  OC Register reporter Theresa Walker (and photographer Paul) attended the day’s festivities, and they worked diligently to gather facts and photos for an article that’s slated to run in the OC Register on June 30, 2012.  Thanks to both Theresa and Paul for their time and effort, and for helping to make the day even more exciting for my Santa Ana students!

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I’m already looking forward to the next school year, and hope to return to both Ontario and Santa Ana to teach.  I’d love to expand to teach at least three classrooms next year (1 in Ontario, 2 in Santa Ana), and will be crossing my fingers in hopes that future donations will support at least three classrooms.  I’ll be launching a new Art Supply Drive in October of this year, but do accept donations year-round, so please contact me now if you’d like to help my 2012 – 2013 students.  Thank you for your consideration and support!

Warm regards,
Melody

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“Remaining Balance” Gift Card Drive!

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Hello, dear readers!  As many of you know, I teach art journaling to at-risk elementary school children.  I donate all my time and some of the supplies, but rely on donors to provide the bulk of the supplies for the children.  Some past donors have sent checks, some have sent art supplies, some have sent gift cards – and it’s ALL been a huge help!  My students are SO enthusiastic and appreciative, and I’d love to keep the program’s positive momentum going.

Today I’m launching a “Remaining Balance” Gift Card Drive!

What’s a Remaining Balance Gift Card?  You know, the gift cards that you used some of before you relegated them to the dark corners of your wallet or desk drawer.  The Michaels card with a $5.78 balance.  The Target gift card with a $4.65 balance.  The Office Max gift card with a $2.21 balance.  The Big Lots gift card with a $3.01 balance.

Instead of leaving these gift cards to loiter and/or gather dust, won’t you consider donating them?  I’ll happily accept gift cards with any (positive) amount of credit on them – even cents! – because every contribution counts.  One dollar can provide a child with a pair of scissors, a pack of crayons, an ink pad, or a paper punch.  I’m happy to piece together loose change, dollars, and assorted donated supplies if it means getting art materials and instruction to the children that need them.

I’ll be honest: talking about money and asking others for help isn’t high up on my list of favorite thing to do, but I’m not shy when it comes to asking for the kids.  They need a helping hand, and I’m glad to lend mine – I hope you’ll lend a hand, too!  Here are some stores that I shop at regularly when putting the art supply packets together, but I’m definitely open to other gift cards as well:

  • Michaels
  • Target
  • Smart & Final
  • Office Max
  • Office Depot
  • Big Lots
  • Art Supply Warehouse (in Garden Grove, CA)

Please contact me if you have a gift card you’re willing to send for the children – I’ll reply with my mailing address.  And whether the card’s balance is $1.25 or $125.00, I thank you!

Warm regards,
Melody

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My 2011-2012 Art Journaling Classes for At-Risk Public School Children

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Remember the Art Supply Drive I had in October?  Where I gathered supplies so I could teach art journaling to at-risk public school children?  Well, thanks to many wonderful people (including many of you) it was a big success!  In fact, I received enough supplies that I could teach TWO classrooms of children this year, instead of just one.  This is something I’d wanted to do for years, and am thrilled I was able to expand to a second school this school year.  (The photo above shows just a portion of the art supplies I received!)  Thank you!

Some Stats

I taught one class of 4th graders in Ontario, CA and one class of 4th graders in Santa Ana, CA.  I put together a bag full of supplies for each student, and also gave extra supplies to each classroom teacher for them to pull from and use during the school year.  In addition, I was able to provide the staff each school with some new and/or gently used office supplies that were donated, including copy paper, binders, wire racks, paper clips, and pencils.

Art journaling kits provided: 90 (45 for each class)
Boxes of assorted supplies: 10
Boxes of office supplies:10

Over 60 students received the gift of art and art journaling instruction, and because the teachers received extra kits for new students that may come into their classes even more children will benefit from this program.

Each kit contained the following (and more!):

  • art journal with unlined pages
  • decorative & patterned paper
  • card stock
  • 3 fabric squares
  • 1 doily
  • aluminum foil
  • punchinella (aka sequin waste)
  • four types of joss paper
  • 1 tag
  • mini ink pad
  • paper punch
  • scissors
  • 2 glue sticks
  • ribbon
  • crayons
  • stickers
  • playing cards
  • glassine envelopes
  • cancelled postage stamps

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How The Two Classes Went

I taught in Ontario on December 9, 2011, and in Santa Ana on January 13, 2012.  My experience in each class was similar: wonderful!  The kids were curious, excited, and engaged. They were intrigued by the examples of art journaling that I shared (I brought my 13 completed art journals with me), and when they received their art journal kits they were over the moon!

They oohed, aahed, and had a great time looking through the supplies in their kits.  Soon they were busy creating, and they happily worked to complete the two art journal pages I assigned – a “favorite things” page, and a page of collage.  Many also worked on customizing the blank, white front and back covers of their journals.

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Similar Materials, Varied & Wonderful Results

One of my favorite things about teaching, aside from nurturing the children’s creativity, self-esteem, and overall educational experience, is seeing the way each child works through the creative process.  Though they all receive the same types of materials, each child has their own style and they invariably use the materials in clever ways that often surprise me.

Art journaling develops their brains and hearts in wonderful ways.  They solve design problems as they execute their artistic ideas, and they develop fine motor skills as they cut, glue, draw, wrap, and punch. They don’t realize this, of course. To them it’s just fun!

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Up Next?  Two Art Journal Shows!
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I’ll be returning to each classroom at the end of the school year to celebrate the work the children have done with an Art Journal Show.  Parents, other classes, and school administrators will be invited to come and see the art the kids have created, and I can’t wait to see their work.

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THANK YOU
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The teachers, students, and administrators at both schools are so thankful for the instruction and materials, and I certainly couldn’t make this happen on my own.  Thank you to all who donated supplies, gift cards, and funds, and to the three wonderful ladies who helped me assemble the art journal packets.  I’d also like thank my hubby for helping me wrangle boxes, and for helping in many other ways!

I recently received thank you letters from the class I taught last month.  Here are a few excerpts:

Thank you for all the supplies.  I could never afford all of that for our class.  Thank you for the art journals and the art journals lesson.”
V.B.

You helped me to express my feelings.  And you helped me to cheer up crying sad times.”
T. M

That was the best day of my life.  Thank you for teaching us how to do collage and art.  I loved the stuff you gave us.
D.S.

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Until Next Time…
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I’ll be sure to post about the two Art Journal Shows at the end of the school year.  In the meantime I’m accepting donations on a year-round basis, so if you’re inspired to send some art supplies you aren’t using or a gift card, please contact me for my mailing address.  I’ll be teaching art journaling each school year, and would love to teach two classrooms of children (or more!) again next year.  Thank you for your consideration!

Warm regards,
Melody

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I’m Very Thankful…

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I’m thankful for so many things, and always strive to express my thanks.  Saying thank you in person, sending thank you notes, and appreciating life’s many gifts – big and small – are ingrained in my spirit and in my being.  I believe in expressing love and appreciation as you feel it, partly because there’s no guarantee for tomorrow.  There’s no time better for expressing thanks than our here and now.

In that vein, I’d like to thank everyone who gave so generously and helped so much with my Art Supply Drive.  The response was so good that I have enough supplies to teach two classrooms of children for the first time since I started my little grassroots art journaling project.

Approximately 80 children will receive the gift of art and positive self-expression this school year.  I’m SO excited and happy – my heart is full, brimming with appreciation for all your help.  Whether you sent supplies, a gift card, a check, re-tweeted my call for supplies, or simply offered moral support and encouragement, I sincerely thank you.

I’ll post about my teaching experiences after I’ve taught the two classes.  In the meantime, thank you for helping me to plant seeds of creativity and kindness.  I think we’d all agree that this can be a crazy and disheartening world – it’s a pleasure to be involved with something so positive and helpful, and to receive such support!

Warm regards,
Melody

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Art Supply Drive: Thank You & Friendly Reminder

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Happy Tuesday!  I hope this blog post finds you well and happy.  Today’s post is a both a thank you and a friendly reminder.

First up, THANK YOU: I’m sending out a big thanks to all those who have sent donations for my Art Supply Drive for at-risk public school children.  You’ve made my heart happy, and I know the kids will be utterly thrilled, too.  They get so much out of the donated supplies and the art journaling class – thank you for helping me to help them!

Next, a friendly reminder: If you’re interested in helping, but haven’t yet mailed your donation, there’s still time!  Though my “deadline” for the Art Supply Drive is November 6th, I’m happy to accept donations beyond that date.  There is such need that I can’t (and won’t) turn donations away, so please email me today and help give the gift of art journaling and positive self-expression to children that desperately need it.

Here’s a link to my initial call for art supplies, in case you missed the first post.  It includes a bit about my art journaling program and a wish list of things I gather for the children. Please feel free to contact me with any questions you may have.

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Again – thank you to all the generous souls who have already donated!
My heart is full of gratitude…

Warm regards,
Melody

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