At Helping Hand House, the work to prevent homelessness among young families is never-ending.
The Puyallup-based nonprofit utilizes four donated homes as parts of its emergency housing program, and families cycle in and out of these homes every two to three weeks. But to keep a program like this running, a steady stream of community donations and fundraising is required.
Earlier this year, more than 25 students in the Key Club at Rogers High School heeded the call to support homeless youth served by Helping Hand House via their artistic talents.
Available now for purchase on the Helping Hand House website is the fruit of their labors: original and unique greeting cards, each one featuring colorful paintings designed by youth helping youth.
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“The kids started out with just a paintbrush, and then they just went crazy,” said Laurie Jackson, community engagement director at Helping Hand House. “They started out by taking acrylic paints. Someone came up with using shaving cream to make (the paint) more pastel.”
The Key Club students painted on a large piece of paper and then they took a frame, placed it on the paper and cut it out to fit on a folding card that is blank on the inside. Students painted until they got out of school for the summer.
Youth volunteers out of high school or home from college for the summer are now helping to assemble each card into stacks of 10. The stacks of 10 are tied up with raffia. On the back of each card is a blurb explaining the mission of Helping Hand House. A separate explanatory card also goes into the pack of 10.
Each package sells for $15 and includes shipping.
Proceeds will go directly toward supporting Helping Hand’s House emergency housing program, Jackson said.
Duke Paulson, executive director of Helping Hand House, came up with the idea a couple years back when he heard about a nonprofit called Creek Kids in California doing a similar project.
Paulson suggested to Jackson that she take the lead on the project.
“Laurie really took off with this,” Paulson said.
Paulson said the project is about kids helping kids.
“The art work is unbelievable,” he said. “What these kids have done is really fun.”
Because this is all about kids, Paulson said 10 percent of the profits from the greeting cards will be shared with other nonprofits helping kids, including St. Francis House, the Puyallup Food Bank and Step by Step.
Jackson and Paulson hope that starting this fall, youth from other schools, clubs and community organizations will want to contribute.
“Parents who have already purchased the cards have kids in the other schools and they will be great advocates for it,” Jackson said.
Jackson said these greeting cards work well as gifts or just to send a message to a friend or loved one.
“The card serves a lot of purposes,” Jackson said. “It’s a beautiful way of getting a message across, and it shows how youth are getting involved in the community and helping those less fortunate.”