When Gov. Jay Inslee mandated school closures, Two Waters Arts Alliance started brainstorming ways to help local kids and families. In May, TWAA launched a collaboration with Food Backpacks 4 Kids, providing fun and easy Creativity Kits alongside student meal pick-ups.
“The number one goal of the organization when it was founded was to help kids learn better through art,” TWAA President Delia McGinnis said. “So, my board got together and we said, ‘What can we do to at least provide arts education for the kids?’ ”
Sharla Schuller, TWAA Elementary Arts Coordinator and Evergreen Elementary after-hours art program teacher, came up with the idea to distribute art projects in partnership with FB4K.
“I really missed the kids and I missed doing those projects, so I was looking around for things we could do in our community,” Schuller said.
The first Creativity Kits contained 2-inch terra cotta pots, an oblong rock, green and white paint, cut sponges for painting, googly eyes and instructions for how to paint a cactus. Other kits have included a paper weaving project and a dream-catcher kit with bangle bracelets, yarn, instructions and the history behind dream-catchers.
“The parents have really loved it,” McGinnis said.
“We would love to see the finished projects,” Schuller said, who also handles TWAA’s social media and marketing. “We’d love to see photos.”
Volunteers put together the art kits in an assembly line while following social distancing guidelines.
“They’re small lunch bags, but it’s 100 bags. It’s nice to be at the Mustard Seed (Project) to put them together because we can spread out,” said McGinnis.
“We’re considering bumping up to 150 because I think there are additional people we can give kits to. There are different bus routes at Evergreen and we might be able to send out to the kids that can’t come to the actual school,” Schuller said.
TWAA has also created a resource page on their website with educational art projects, including highlighted weekly projects that can be done with supplies most families have around the house.
“I am really blessed and grateful to have such an amazing board who have really stepped up to do this, but we need more volunteers to help us,” McGinnis said. “I just really want to get as many kids involved and get stuff out to as many kids as possible. We’re trying to think outside the box and we’re dabbling in many things.”
Two Waters Art Coordinator for Key Peninsula Middle School, Stephanie Flintoff, recently started working with her art students via Zoom.
“We’re going to start doing art together via the internet,” Flintoff said. “I really started missing the kids in the art class and what they bring to me personally, because it’s a time when I get to be artistic and experiment with colors or whatever we’re doing in class, and it’s just fun.”
Flintoff’s group, which plans to continue meeting virtually through the summer, is currently working on designs for decorative banners that will be printed on vinyl and hung in Key Center.
“Our focus is more on the kids in our community, but we also want to have art programs for adults,” Schuller said. “We’re hoping to reach out and do more with that as time goes on.”
The organization has been throwing around the idea of having local artists create pieces of art on plywood depicting scenes of life on the KP to display around town, an idea inspired by murals painted on boarded up buildings in Seattle.
“We’ve got a couple of artists who said they might be interested in doing that, but we need more,” McGinnis said. “I have a lot of friends who are artists but some of them just feel so uninspired during all of this. We’re not having the Art Walk this year and things are kind of tough.”
McGinnis, who grew up in a small town in Minnesota and has lived in Texas, Missouri, North Dakota, Germany and several other places, says she feels fortunate to be living on the Key Peninsula now more than ever.
“This is the best community I have ever lived in. I just think it’s wonderful,” she said. “We take care of one another here. All the resources and the people, it’s amazing. Yes, everybody’s concerned and they want to take care of their own and stuff, but they also reach out a hand to help everybody else.”
For more information, visit twowaters.org.