Community partnership brings TLC to families in Southeast Atlanta

Community partnership brings TLC to families in Southeast Atlanta

We're pleased to share about our Take Home Craft | Atlanta project with you in this story by Tianna Faulkner.

Take Home Craft Atlanta box contents

↑ A collaboration between the American Craft Council and Purpose Built Schools Atlanta this summer led to the creation of more than 300 craft boxes containing supplies and instructions for 16 different art projects, which were delivered to students in Southeast Atlanta.

The American Craft Council joined forces with Purpose Built Schools Atlanta’s Building Adolescent Minds program to create Take Home Craft | Atlanta, a project that made a difference in the lives of hundreds of children during COVID-19. ACC Trustees in the Southeast region conceived the opportunity and produced boxes of craft supplies for PBSA to distribute to 340 children in grades kindergarten through twelve. Take Home Craft | Atlanta was designed to inspire learning as well as provide emotional and artistic activities for children and families facing COVID-19 and other adversities. Volunteers from ACC created the curriculum with Atlanta artists, raised the funds needed, ordered the supplies, and assembled the boxes. PBSA and its volunteers facilitated virtual and pop-up camps in communities surrounding the four PBSA schools in Southeast Atlanta.

Take Home Craft Atlanta boxes being assembled
Take Home Craft Atlanta boxes being loaded into a van

↑ Four ACC Trustees worked with regional artists to develop the activities in the craft kits and coordinated assembly with the help of 16 volunteers.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, cases and deaths have remained at alarming rates in America, including in the state of Georgia, which has reportedly had some of the highest COVID-19 case numbers in the country. Companies are going bankrupt, people with lost jobs are claiming unemployment, and many are trying to figure out how to make ends meet. Underserved communities are feeling the effects of the pandemic even more. The purpose of ACC’s Take Home Craft | Atlanta project in partnership with PBSA was to provide some relief for families in underserved communities during the pandemic. The boxes full of craft supplies were meant to inspire the children to be creative and give them an outlet, while learning and trying something new.

“I am overwhelmed with gratitude,” said Javan Wyche, manager of community and student engagement at PBSA. “These boxes created new opportunities and an outlet for our students. They gave our families the ability to engage with one another and provided an escape for the kids from some harsh realities.”

A student learning about the activities in the Take Home Craft | Atlanta kit at an outdoor pop-up event
A student painting using supplies from the Take Home Craft | Atlanta kit at an outdoor pop-up event

↑ Students explored the different art activities in the craft kits at a pop-up event this summer.
Photos: Taylor Bareford

According to Wyche, the children were enthused about trying new ways to express themselves. The boxes held tools and materials that they can reuse over and over. Watercolors, embroidery hoops, and puppet diagrams provided tools for creative exploration. Wyche said the craft activities introduced through the boxes were linked to basic art concepts the children are learning in school. The project came about when Wyche was developing a virtual summer program and pop-up camps but did not have the funding for art supplies. ACC, known for its major craft shows, has hosted a show in Atlanta every year. Without the show this year, ACC Trustees in the region wanted to connect with the Atlanta community by getting more directly involved and giving back. Take Home Craft | Atlanta became their pilot effort to move more deeply into the Atlanta community. PBSA’s need for supplies and ACC’s goal to support the community was a perfect match to build a partnership. This past spring, Wyche began working with ACC Trustees. Together, they evolved the project to meet the needs of the community and developed an assessment tool to capture student engagement. This summer, the project was implemented with the distribution of the craft boxes to the children.

“This gift of craft supplies from ACC facilitated virtual and pop-up camps utilizing the boxes and their curriculum,” said Wyche.

With a mission to assist underserved communities in Southeast Atlanta, PBSA services four schools. Thomasville Heights Elementary, Price Middle School, and Carver STEAM Academy students were the recipients of the craft boxes. These schools, and communities where the children live, are in the most concentrated area of chronic poverty in Georgia.

Students painting using supplies from the Take Home Craft | Atlanta kit at an outdoor pop-up event
A student showing off her artwork beside an activity leader at an outdoor pop-up event

↑ The craft kits were designed to provide students with everything they would need to try an art activity while encouraging them to make it their own.
Photos: Taylor Bareford

Rachel Garceau, an ACC Trustee, was instrumental in helping to get local artists and volunteers for the project. The leadership of ACC Trustee Jean McLaughlin also helped bring the project to fruition.

“We brought in Atlanta-area artists and partnered with the Center for Puppetry Arts,” explained Garceau. “This was a way for the ACC to do something different in Atlanta. We’re invested in this city. We really wanted to be effective in different ways,” she said, speaking of ACC’s outreach.

Garceau said the goal of Take Home Craft | Atlanta was for children to have a creative outlet during a challenging time and to give them an opportunity to explore. The boxes of supplies were assembled in five days. Garceau and McLaughlin were joined by two other ACC Trustees, Lynn Pollard and Harriett Green, and 16 volunteers. Working in a large space, they utilized social distancing by wearing masks and working in groups of six. Along with artist instructions, the boxes included such art supplies as colored pencils, crayons, sidewalk chalk, a variety of papers, a sketchbook, watercolor paints, brushes, scissors, yarn, a small loom, markers, fabric, and embroidery needles. Wyche and Garceau both said that they hope to continue working together and seeing the boxes of inspiration reach additional children.

The boxes full of craft supplies were meant to inspire the children to be creative and give them an outlet, while learning and trying something new.

“The dynamic thing about this project is that it gives children the opportunity to explore their innate talent,” Wyche explained. “The children were very excited to try everything, and the quality and the amount of activities captured the imagination of the older kids as well.”

Tianna Faulkner is a freelance writer based in Atlanta covering the arts, entertainment, business, health, lifestyle, and more.

Interested in exploring this kit for yourself or the kids in your life?

Be sure to check out The Hambidge Center for Creative Arts and Sciences' Art Auction and Virtual Performance Show on October 24. A few of the Take Home Craft kits will be available for bidding between now and the event, on their website, with the proceeds going to support the ACC and the Hambidge Center.

American Craft Council programming depends on you

As a national nonprofit, we are working to build a future where craft brings us together as people, and we need your support to make it happen. Please consider donating or becoming a member today to help make programs like Take Home Craft | Atlanta possible.

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