Waterville Creates! is the recipient of a $2,500 United Way of Mid-Maine Community First Fund Award for the collaborative Art Kits for All pandemic response program an effort to help keep community families engaged and entertained during this public health crisis by providing free art supplies and instructions for art projects that can be created at home, according to a news release from Nathan Towne, marketing director of Waterville Creates!

“We’re utterly thrilled. This funding will make a huge difference to many local families who rely on our art programs, events, and scholarships to live a fulfilling and balanced life,” said Waterville Creates! President and CEO Shannon Haines. “Closing our doors during the COVID-19 pandemic was heartbreaking to us. Art Kits for All is an innovative, collaborative program designed to get art supplies into the hands of families and fulfill our mission to support and promote high-quality, accessible art experiences albeit in a completely reimagined way.”

The Community First Fund supports community betterment and crisis recovery efforts, providing extra funding to local nonprofit organizations by funding programs or projects that address a need in the community, or aid in the continuation of an organizations mission.

“We are honored to support Waterville Creates! and their effort to connect families with art resources,” said Bethany Drouin, resource development director of the United Way of Mid-Maine. “The Art Kits for All program will provide value to the lives of families throughout our communities.”

A network of local nonprofits powers the Art Kits for All program, generously providing volunteers and supplies to keep this popular relief program engaging and informative. Representatives from the Colby College Museum of Art, the Kennebec Montessori School, Waterville Public Schools, and the Family Violence Project gather weekly to plan future Art Kit themes relevant to the community, obtain supplies, develop instructional materials, and pack the Kits. Art Kits for All are distributed for free at the George J. Mitchell School and Downtown Waterville Farmers’ Market. The art kits are assembled at the Common Street Arts’ Studio, currently closed to the public. Masks and gloves are worn during kit assembly, and all art materials are disinfected to remove any risk of contamination. The kits are prepared and sealed a week prior to the distribution date to further minimize any transmission risk. Future kit themes include activities inspired by the art of Bernard Langlais and Hew Locke on display at the Colby College Museum of Art, a Plein Air watercolor painting Kit, and a Pastels Kit. Past kits activities have included creating zoetropes, kite-making, and clay sculpting.

Community donations in support of this ongoing effort are requested; donors can sponsor one art kit for just $10, and all gifts are tax deductible. To donate, visit secure.givelively.org/donate/waterville-creates/art-kits-for-all.

IMAGE: Children playing with free Art Kits art supplies at the George J. Mitchell School in Waterville, courtesy of George J. Mitchell School

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