Our Community

Update on VGA Art Kits

By now, I hope most members are aware of the gallery’s Art Kits program.  But did you know that the program was born in the summer of 2020 from almost nothing?  Sharon Dunham and I had a “let’s just do this” moment after talking about it long enough, and things took off from there.  Our early supplies were donated and some were leftovers from GUASS.   I recall sitting on my deck with Sharon and (President) Donna Zenobia Saffir, assembling kits outdoors since it was the first summer of COVID.   We started out distributing kits in front of the gallery and also to a couple of local non-profits. Luckily, Sharon learned–last minute–of a grant available through the City of Beaverton and went for it! (I think she wrote and submitted the application the night that it was due.)  We were funded and a viable program with a budget was born!  A very generous individual contribution then carried us to this point once we spent our grant money. Having that income stream enabled us to enhance our offerings from those early days.  The cost of our kits range from less than a dollar to approximately $3.30. Most kits are under $2.00 each. Darlene Staffelbach has been our Art Kits angel and also assembles most of our kits.

One of my tasks is keeping a spreadsheet which tracks production, inventory, distribution, and the average costs of the kits.  In the past three years, we have produced and distributed over 1000 kits.  Seeing this on my latest printout inspired me to write this article.  These days, most of our kits are not handed out at the gallery or the Cedar Mill Farmer’s Market, but go to those in financial or emotional need. We have partnered with at least 13 other non-profits in Washington and Multnomah County.  Since art has healing powers, I’d like to think that receiving a kit brightens someone’s day. While most kits focus on a singular project, many contain enough materials to do more.  Our kits are not just for kids.  A few appeal to adults as well, and I’ve heard a number of parents announce “arts & crafts when we get home” or grandparents say they want a kit to work on with their visiting grandchildren.

If you have an idea for a kit, make a prototype & I can send you a sample handout for a template.  A current need is paper for Origami kits. Leftover gift wrap works well; please cut it into 4 to 8 inch squares & leave it in the “Class Scheduler” mailbox.

Debbie Teeter, Education Coordinator (education@villagegalleryarts.org)