Monday, February 22, 2016

Gift Bag Joy


I was SO excited to have had the opportunity (with your help) to give the girls at Hope House gift bags for Valentines Day! Each gift bag contained an 8 by 10  encouraging art print, a 5 by 7 Cinderella print, a journal, nail polish, and lip balm, and a copy of my book "Life is a Circus." 
One of the girls said that she felt the art was created specifically for her. She loved it so much. 
                      One of my joys is making gift bags. 

When I worked at Safe House domestic violence shelter, I loved the job of creating the welcome bags for the women and children who were coming in.  So when a client was going to arrive, my job was to create a welcome bag that contained shampoo, conditioner, 
toothpaste, tooth brush, soap, a welcome packet, hairbrush...if I found more donations in our closet, I would add a quilt, water bottle, journal, hand cream, body spray, and a stuffed animal (if the woman had a child/children). Also the second part was to prepare the room with fresh linens and towels. I know it was very traumatic for these women to go to a strange place, with people they don't know - so making the room and bed as comfortable as possible was important, especially to me because I knew first hand the importance of needing a toothbrush and slipping into a clean, fresh bed after a day of traveling, thinking, crying, not knowing what was happening. At nine years old my mother mustered up her courage to make an exit plan and leave her abuser, my dad.

Even though I was young and didn't know what was happening, I knew that I knew, that what my mom did took courage.  
Even this very moment, I can feel the cool, clean sheets I slipped into that first night at the domestic violence shelter. 

What may seem mundane, like washing sheets or giving someone tooth paste can be so helpful and comforting to another person. 

I am sure that the staff at the shelter didn't think their job of washing the sheets or creating a welcome bag was saving lives, but to me, it saved my sanity - I have good, positive memories from my first night at the shelter instead negative ones. 

My mission is to give out gift bags like these to at-risk, exploited women and youth. 

I try to give every girl who leaves our care a gift bag with my book, a journal, encouraging art print, nail polish, and lip balm. I want every one of the youth to take home something that will help them remember what they have learned while they were with us and also items that will bring encouragement. My future plans are to include necessities like toiletries and a new blanket in each gift bag.

Presently, my husband and I are able to do this on a small scale from a percentage from my art sales. My goal is to be able to create these gift bags to give away to at-risk youth, exploited children, and survivors of human trafficking.

A percentage of every sale provides something that may seem insignificant to us but huge to an at risk youth.

Every sale that I make at Margie's Art Studio, a percentage goes to help me get these bags together. It also helps me and my husband do little things for the 6 girls that live with; their favorite snacks on their beds as a surprise, sketch books, art books, pizza night party, etc..

Here is a link to my website if you are interested in donating to help me with this cause.
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