Art and About
Engaging with the creative force in everyday life

November 25th, 2007

The Art of Giving Thanks

Posted by christina in Web Columns

As Thanksgiving weekend draws to a close and the December holiday season is on the horizon, thoughts turn to gift giving and, sorry to be crass, gift receiving. I get my holiday shopping done before Halloween as a rule, so I sail through the gift giving. What I tend to fixate on is the gift receiving. I’m not a goods hungry greed monster. In fact, I tell loved ones I don’t need any gifts (which doesn’t work, by the way). Instead, I obsess about finding the time and creativity to write thank-you notes.

I have written before about making the art for my own thank-you cards (“Art is in the Cards”). And I have written about how my kids design their own stationery for thank-you notes (“Teach Kids an Artistic Way to Say Thank You”) I’m a fanatic about thank-you notes year round, but especially at holiday time. My kids have participated in thanking folks themselves for gifts since they could speak only a few words to dictate a basic “thank you.” They always provide the artwork for unique cards, and every year they have been able to write more and more of the message themselves. It has become a tradition in our family, on December 26, to sit around the dining room table and do our thank-you notes. To make it festive, we each get to eat a Christmas cookie every time we finish a note. It’s the only day of the year I let the kids (or myself) gorge, and it makes the job fun.

You can imagine my delight when I learned of a local non-profit organization, Creek Kids Care, which uses children’s art to make stationery to sell and raise money for worthy causes. When I first saw the product, I bought three packs immediately, which we are rapidly depleting as the whole family uses them to write thank-you notes and letters to friends and family. It a tremendous feeling to support the arts, children’s creativity, charity and the importance of gratitude all with one note card.

Creek Kids Care began in Walnut Creek, CA as a way for kids to use their creativity and time to make a difference in the world. It started because two children were concerned about the wellbeing of one local homeless man. Since its inception in 2004, Creek Kids Care has grown to over 150 families, generating more than $12,000 in donations for Fresh Start Walnut Creek, JF Kapnek Trust and Tsunami Relief. All the stationery is assembled by kids using the artwork of other kids. Recently, Creek Kids Care has started to use the artwork to make and sell clear glass magnets called Touchstones. Their Web site gives more details about the organizations they support.

The Creek Kids Care mission statement says all you need to know about this organization:

“Creek Kids Care is a non-profit organization made up of concerned and hopeful Walnut Creek children and teens who believe their time, creativity and effort can make a difference in the world. Using the donated proceeds from their artistic creations, CKC raises funds that help improve the well being of children, adults and families in need, both locally and internationally. Every product is created by the kids.”

The Creek Kids Care Web site is worth exploring, especially because you can see their vibrant products and purchase them. The site explains how the stationery is born during periodic Art Parties. Children aged preschool and up participate in mixed media gathering where their creativity is encouraged to run wild to produce the original pieces used for the note cards. The intention is to make something beautiful in order to help make someone else’s life easier. Older children gather to assemble the note cards, pasting the original artwork onto blank cards, gathering them into groups of 10 with envelopes and simply tying raffia around the stack for a visually appealing display.

With the note cards comes a small insert explaining the purpose of Creek Kids Care. Among the ideas I have already mentioned, it says:

“Children show their vitality and their imagination through their artwork. Giving their artwork away to loved ones and seeing their creation appreciated and displayed is a meaningful way for children to share themselves and their love.”

I could not have written that statement any better. I am not at all involved with Creek Kids Care, although it seems like I should be. I wonder why I didn’t come up with the idea myself, actually. This holiday season, my family will be giving away the creativity of Creek Kids Care when we do our thank-you notes. Admittedly, we’re straying a little from our own homemade art approach, but I can’t think of a better way to impart the humanity of the season than by promoting the multifaceted ideals of some caring and clever local children.

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