A 10-year-old girl is solely responsible for giving the gift of art and smiles to more than 1,500 kids in foster care and homeless shelters during the Covid-19 shutdowns. The brains behind Chelsea’s Charity – a nonprofit started in August 2019 for the purpose of donating art kits to at-risk children – is Chelsea Phaire, a vibrant sixth grader from Danbury, Connecticut, who started this organization with her parents as part of her 10th birthday present.
“Since she was seven, she was begging me and her dad to start a charity,” Candace Phaire, Chelsea’s mom, told CNN. “She was so persistent, every couple of months she would ask, ‘Are we starting Chelsea’s Charity yet?’ When she was turning 10, she asked us again, and we decided it was time to go for it.”
Chelsea asked people to give her art supplies instead of birthday gifts as a way of commencing the charity on her birthday. After the first round of donations helped to supply several dozen art kits for children in need, Chelsea pushed on and set up her charity’s Amazon Wishlist as a way to collect supplies for the kits. Since then, Chelsea’s Charity has donated hundreds of art kits to women’s shelters, schools, and homeless shelters impacted by gun violence in 12 US States. Each kit contains crayons, gel pens, coloring books, paper, and colored pencils. Although stay-at-home orders have prevented her from personally delivering the kits like she normally would, she has still managed to send an additional 1,500 art kits since quarantine started.
Chelsea believes art is a healing remedy, which is why her mission is to help as many traumatized kids as she possibly can through art. Despite her tenacity and zest for life, she herself is no stranger to trauma. When Chelsea was just 8, someone considered part of her family lost their life to gun violence. This was the point that art went from being a hobby to the perfect therapy. Knowing that there are other children out there also dealing with trauma is what motivated Chelsea to help make art more accessible to kids in need and to help them cope with their emotions.
Candace Phaire, who is a professor of early-childhood education at Central Connecticut State University, believes art plays an important role in the emotional development of children. “Art therapy is being prescribed a lot more to support the mental health of young kids, especially those with social and emotional deficiencies,” Phaire told CNN. “Now with Covid-19, a lot of kids in shelters and also children in foster homes might not have access to art supplies they usually find in school. It is also mental health awareness month, so that’s definitely motivating us to ramp it up and send even more kits.”
While she may have had to alter her in-person delivery service to accommodate social distancing, it won’t stop Chelsea from bringing smiles and hope to children all over the country. During such unprecedented times we are all experiencing, it’s restorative to see such selfless action taken to spread joy and wonderment throughout our communities. All of us here at Hawley and Associates commend Chelsea and her willingness to serve others and we have been truly inspired by the message behind Chelsea’s Charity.