MakerSpace: Get Teens Involved Making Cards by Kate-Lynn Brown
If you’re looking for a quick, easy, and relatively cheap way to give back this holiday season–and also plan a program with your teens–I’d suggest making holiday cards to donate! This time of year gives everyone the jitters, and channeling that extra excitement and energy into creativity is a great way to unwind.
I ran a drop-in card program this December where I asked the teens to make and decorate holiday cards. What’s great about this program is that it works this time of year, but it can be done any time! Most organizations will accept year-round cards for birthdays, other holidays, or just to say hello and share messages of encouragement.
Some general tips: Most organizations want you to send multiple cards, pictures, and letters in one large envelope. Individually wrapping each card creates a hassle for screeners and distributors. In general, the consensus for organizations sending to sick people is to avoid “Get well soon.” There is no way to know if the person receiving your card is terminal, so they might not be able to get well soon. My director had only one request about this project: NO GLITTER. Save your library floor and the organization you’re sending to, and leave the glitter and confetti out. This would also be a great program to run library-wide. Although I’m just doing this with my teens, adult and children’s services could easily get involved to send an even bigger collection of cards!
Cards for Hospitalized Kids is a great option if you want to make cards now that can reach their destination by the holidays. CFHK sends cards to hospitals all around the country, The group, started by Jen Rubio and run out of Chicago, asks for all cards to be sent two weeks before the holiday, but can accept them up until 7 days before. If you want to get cards to hospitals before the end of Hanukkah, you have until December 14th to send them. Be sure to include Rubio started the group after 20+ hospital stays for connective tissue and bone disease; so she’s experienced firsthand how a handmade card can make someone’s day! This is the organization my teens made cards for during our drop-in.
Cards for Hospitalized Kids
7290 W. Devon Ave
Chicago, IL 60631
Operation Gratitude sends cards and care packages to deployed troops, veterans, new recruits, and first responders. The site’s “Guide to Letter Writing” helps contributors decide what to say, from the generic salutation to the closing remarks. Children are asked to use their first name only and provide an adult’s contact information if they’d like to receive a response.
ATTN: Letter Writing Program
21100 Lassen Street
Chatsworth, CA 91311-4278
This nonprofit organization is perfect for year-round donations. Card Care Connection accepts cards all year and asks for them to blank on the inside. Sentiments such as, “you’re special,” “hello!” are encouraged, but the group asks that contributors refrain from religious messages, “get well soon,” or cards for specific holidays. Card Care Connection asks the contributors use cardstock and other high-quality materials, so this organization is best for older teens and adult programs.
Card Care Connection
112 Saddlehorn Court
Fenton, MO 63026
Caitlin’s Smiles mission is a great one: “Giving sick children laughs, hopes, and smiles.” Caitlin Hornung was only four years old when she was diagnosed with cancer, and she passed away before her eighth birthday. This organization continues Caitlyn’s love of art and making people happy by providing creative care packages to kids undergoing long treatments in hospitals. Each “Bag of Smile” is sent with a homemade card. The group asks for cards to not contain any religious messages, and do not say get well soon. Since most of the patients are terminal, this isn’t the best sentiment to send. Include fun drawings, silly jokes, and bright colors!
3303 N. 6th Street
Harrisburg, PA 17110
Each hospital that partners with Cardz for Kidz promises to deliver each card room to room, which makes the kids even more excited about your message to them! Contributors are encouraged to include popular characters, like the ninja turtles and minions, although generic animals and jokes are great too! The organization also needs cards in Spanish, French, Creole, and Vietnamese. The group asks for cards to be signed with a first name, which makes the experience more personal for the child receiving.
Cardz for Kidz
323 East Wacker Drive #11
Chicago, IL 60601
Filed under: Makerspace
About Karen Jensen, MLS
Karen Jensen has been a Teen Services Librarian for almost 30 years. She created TLT in 2011 and is the co-editor of The Whole Library Handbook: Teen Services with Heather Booth (ALA Editions, 2014).
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