In less than a year, Chelsea Phaire has assembled more than 2,500 art kits to deliver to children who have been through traumatic life events, from mass shootings to adjusting to the foster care system.
Chelsea's mom, Candace Phaire, says her 10-year-old daughter has been asking to start some type of charity to help others since she was five years old. But, as Chelsea's tenth birthday approached in August 2019, Phaire and her husband decided their daughter was finally old enough to handle the responsibility.
Instead of bringing gifts to her birthday party, Chelsea asked friends and family to donate art supplies, which she planned to use to create art kits to deliver to kids who were living in a homeless shelter near their Danbury, Connecticut home. Two weeks after her birthday, Chelsea took 40 kits containing art supplies like crayons, paint and paper to the facility.
After seeing the joy their donations helped provide, friends and family wanted to give more. Phaire helped Chelsea create an Amazon wish list with products she needed to create more kits and started a website to keep followers updated about their work. Chelsea's Charity was born.
"Chelsea picked out all the things she likes to use," Phaire recalled of the wish list. "Crayola crayons and certain types of paints — she felt like kids should have the same type of materials she was using. There's a deficiency in the art world for kids in situations like these, so this was a perfect way for Chelsea to get involved."
As donations poured in, Chelsea and her family traveled to El Paso, Texas and Jersey City, New Jersey to deliver art kits to kids who had been affected by mass shootings in their communities. Since her tenth birthday party, Chelsea has also made donations to veterans at a local community center, in addition to donations to kids in homeless shelters, hospitals and foster care homes: More than 2,500 kits have been dispersed to children in over 17 different states.
"She really gets a big charge out of helping the kids with their art materials," Phaire told TODAY Parents, adding that because of the COVID-19 pandemic, planned trips to Atlanta, Georgia and Washington, D.C. to deliver kits had to be postponed and Chelsea has not been able to visit with the children at nearby facilities where she's made recent supply drop-offs. "We've made videos of her giving little art lessons for the kids to see instead of her getting to talk to kids in person."
While the Amazon wish list on the Chelsea's Charity website is currently completely fulfilled, Phaire says they'll be adding a new list this summer. Individuals or facilities who would like to receive a kit from Chelsea can complete a request form on the website.
In a recent appearance on NBC News' Nightly News: Kids Edition, Chelsea showed how she assembles her kits and explained that she wants to inspire other kids to make a difference in the world.
So why did Chelsea choose art as a way to help other kids?
"I love art because it has the ability to open doors to a new world for everyone," the 10-year-old said. "It's like we can escape in the arts, and I wanted to share it with others because everyone should be able to escape like that if they want."
"I just know how much art has helped me when I was really sad, so I wanted to see if it could possibly help other kids, too."