She found the perfect way to cheer up other kids stuck at home.

By Hana Hong and Hana Hong
May 28, 2020
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Chelsea Phaire, a 10-year-old from Danbury, Conn., asked her guests to bring art supplies instead of gifts last August for her 10th birthday. She distributed crayons, markers, paper, and colored pencils into 40 plastic kits, and delivered them personally to a homeless shelter in New York. Inspired after seeing the kids’ happy faces, that’s when she launched Chelsea's Charity.

"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."

The rising sixth grader pooled her allowance and tooth fairy money, set up an Amazon wishlist full of art supplies, and asked friends and relatives to check it out. Soon enough, donations started pouring in. Before the pandemic, every time they got enough donations, Chelsea and her mother would pack up the kits, drive down to where the kids were, and hand-deliver the packages to children in person. As part of the in-person deliveries, Chelsea gave an art lesson to the recipients of her kits, including a small presentation on why art is important to her.

courtesy Candace Phaire

Between August and March, the Phaires donated nearly 900 art kits filled with markers, crayons, paper, coloring books, colored pencils, and gel pens.

With this year's added stress of a global pandemic, it's more important than ever to make sure kids have a way to cope with the emotions that come with adjusting to today's new reality. Now that social distancing measures are imposed, she and her mom are mailing the kits. Since then, Chelsea has sent more than 1,500 children in homeless shelters, schools, and foster care homes art kits in 12 states across the US. 

Art has always been something near and dear to Chelsea. When she was 8, her swim instructor, who she says she considered family, was killed from gun violence in the middle of their swim season. As a result, Chelsea turned to art as a form of therapy.

Knowing that other children have also gone through trauma inspired Chelsea to help make art more accessible to help others cope with similar feelings.

While the kits may take a little bit longer to reach them, children everywhere are now receiving a creative outlet to process their emotions and channel their energy during a time where they aren’t able to do so in the classroom. Foster parents who have children at home during the stay-at-home orders are also feeling grateful.

"I feel good inside knowing how happy they are when they get their art kits," Chelsea told CNN. "I have definitely grown as a person because of this. Now my dream is to meet every kid in the entire world and give them art. Who knows, maybe if we do that and then our kids do that, we'll have world peace!"