Color-a-Smile: A Year-End Tradition

My kids look forward to their favorite big-hearted project all year long. Partly because we do it on the last day of school – who doesn't look forward to that! And partly because it is a fun, annual ritual. 

Each year when school ends, we share art with Color-a-Smile. 

Throughout the school year, we toss all of their school work and class projects into a bin in the closet. By the end of the year, this bin is overflowing with art projects, drawings, coloring pages, and spelling worksheets.

Sometime after the last day of school, we pour cold glasses of lemonade, find a shady place on the deck, and dig through that stack. Along the way, we rediscover favorite projects. We marvel at how much they've learned.

We sort everything into piles. One pile of precious projects makes its way into a keepsake binder, essentially their yearbook. One pile of less remarkable paper (spelling tests, for instance) makes its way to the recycling bin.

Collect school projects, artwork, and drawings in a bin throughout the year.

Collect school projects, artwork, and drawings in a bin throughout the year.

Arrange a few favorites, along with school photos, and special mementos into a three ring binder with plastic sheet protectors.

Arrange a few favorites, along with school photos, and special mementos into a three ring binder with plastic sheet protectors.

This wonderful nonprofit accepts all standard-sized kids drawings and sends them on to nursing homes, deployed soldiers, hospitals, and other individuals in need of a smile.

This wonderful nonprofit accepts all standard-sized kids drawings and sends them on to nursing homes, deployed soldiers, hospitals, and other individuals in need of a smile.

And one pile full of cheery 8-1/2 x 11 inch artwork is slid into an envelope for Color-a-Smile to be used to cheer up those in hospitals, nursing homes, or overseas military stations.

You and your children can send cheer across the miles too!

Here are a few tips to make the most of your Color-a-Smile experience.

  1. Be sure your child writes his/her name and age on each drawing.
  2. For health reasons, don't include anything with glitter or pieces that may fall off.
  3. Mail your package to Color A Smile - PO Box 1516 - Morristown, NJ 07962-1516.
  4. Talk about the good you are sending into the world by asking a few simple questions.
  • Would you like to receive mail if you were sick or far from home? How would it make you feel?

  • What else makes you feel better when you are lonely or ill?

  • Do you remember ever being sick or away from home for a long time?

  • Was there a time when you weren’t feeling well and someone did something nice for you? How did it feel?

  • How do you think your drawings will make others feel?

One year, as second grade drew to a close, my then-eight-year-old asked nearly daily if we could sort through her creations and "send our package of smiles."

When I asked her why she was looking forward to it so much, she told me, "Because all my hard work from the year can actually make a difference."

Color-a-Smile is happy to find a home for all your child's standard-sized creations. But if you enjoy this project, you may want to take it further. Make Color-a-Smile a regular feature in your home. Or host a Color-a-Smile party! If you do, consider downloading one of Color-a-Smile's many printable templates. These keep shipping costs down as they distribute smiles around the globe.

Teens and adults that want to send cheerful mail through Color-a-Smile might have fun putting the grown-up coloring book craze to work for good.  My family loves the positive, empowering quotes in this Good Vibes edition (we're on our third copy of this version).

I hope you enjoy this simple, big-hearted tradition.

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