Putting smiles on faces.
Caitlin’s Smiles provides pediatric patients with arts-and-crafts activities – Bags of Smiles, individual craft kits, coping kits, toys, and Camp-in-a-Bag. Whatever the gift, the results are the same for all who are touched by these simple gifts: fun, smiles, reduced anxiety, and the realization that others care. The children receiving the gifts, their family, medical staff, and Caitlin’s Smiles volunteers and staff all benefit from the joy these simple gifts bring. All the pieces are created by our wonderful volunteers. They are shipped or carried to medical facilities to be distributed by their staff to the children.
Bags of Smiles
Each Bag of Smiles contains a volunteer-made greeting card, two individual craft kits, two cans of Play-Doh, a journal, coloring or drawing materials, a small toy or book, and a Caitlin’s Smiles flyer. Paper gift bags decorated by volunteers, or fabric tote-bags sewn by volunteers, hold all these goodies. To ensure that children can fully enjoy the contents of their bags, each Bag of Smiles is made for a specific age range and gender. These bags are generally given to children during hospital stays or treatment days. All Bags of Smiles are created by specially trained volunteers.
Thousands of craft kits are made by our passionate volunteers every year. We also use “store-bought” craft kits for variety. The kits are included in our Bags of Smiles and Coping Kits. A variety of about 200 different craft kits are also boxed up and sent to hospitals for kids to enjoy. Volunteers assemble the kits at our office or at their location using our instruction sheets. You can find some of our kit instructions here:
Coping Kits are mini Bags of Smiles and are geared for children in emergency room or out-patient surgery settings. Each Coping Kit contains a volunteer-made greeting card, one mini Play-Doh, small journal with stickers, a craft kit, coloring page, a few crayons, and a small toy, packaged in a quart-size zip-locking baggie.
One of the most creative mementos we send to children are wonderful handmade greeting cards. These arrive in the children’s hands in the Bags of Smiles and Coping Kits. With a few simple directions, almost anyone can put a smile on a kiddo’s face by making a funny, cheery, silly, inspiring card for Caitlin’s Smiles to send. Card-making is a great activity for preschoolers through seniors, artists and scribblers, civic groups, businesses, and students. To create cards, click on the button below for our specifications.
Larger toys are sometimes requested by hospitals. Small toys are wonderful additions to our Bags of Smiles and Coping Kits. Toys that fit in gift bags or quart-sized baggies, such as playing cards, small slinkies, toy cars, or small jigsaw puzzles (100 pieces or fewer) are used most often. Kids’ meal toys – new, unopened, and clean – are perfect for our uses.
During the summer of 2020, in-person summer medical camps for pediatric patients were canceled. Camp staffers worked diligently to find alternative programming for their campers. Caitlin’s Smiles worked with them to provide activities for their virtual campers — and “Camp-in-a-Bag” was born! Each camper received five fun craft activities to complete from home during the online meeting platforms. Though the campers could not be together physically, they connected by sharing these identical craft activities and the fun of making them.