COLOR started out with project color Box. After the Tsunami devastated parts of Sri Lanka COLOR was formed and took donations of moral building boxes from a wide variety of donors and delivered them to children impacted by the disaster. This type of person to person direct philanthropy epitomized the efforts COLOR wanted to focus on.
This effort continued in future disasters including Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana where over 350 COLOR Boxes were collected for children and youth. The majority of the boxes came from Eton School in Redmond, WA. Claudia Toner, who does Community Development for the school, described the project as an, “opportunity for children to help children,” and that, “By participating in this unique creative personal project social awareness has raised to the highest level here at Eton School and the children are so very proud!” Additional boxes came from individual donors, and from Mrs. Larson’s kindergarten class at St. Thomas School in Medina. Everyone did such a great job; the COLOR Boxes were all so very personal, and filled with thoughtful and caring items.
We (C.O.L.O.R. volunteers, David Anderson and Jennifer Longheyer) spent a week in Texas and Louisiana delivering the boxes. After spending a few days in Texas and visiting many different shelters in the Houston area, it was apparent that hurricane victims sheltered in Texas were well taken care of. Most victims, especially those with children were quickly being placed in apartments and hotels. Goods, services, and jobs were being offered readily. So the volunteers decided to take boxes into Louisiana, and headed for distribution sites seeking donations for children.
Upon entering Louisiana, it was apparent that resources were much more needed in this area. We were lucky to find Rev. J.L. Franklin, of the Calcasieu Parish School Board, and coordinator for some of the emergency response in Lake Charles. It is an area recovering from both Hurricanes Katrina and Rita; damage to residence, schools, and shopping centers covered most of the parish. Not far from New Orleans, but out of the storm’s path, this area had sheltered many displaced people following Katrina. Weeks later they found themselves victims of Rita. Now sheltering thousands of people, and with months of cleanup ahead they are feeling a bit overwhelmed by the situation. The schools slowly reopened the last few weeks of October. We are glad that so many children in this area can be helped by this project. Rev. Franklin said, “It has been a joy watching the children’s expressions because of your gifts to them.” The boxes were a big hit, and more were requested and sent for children at John F. Kennedy Elementary School in Lake Charles, Louisiana.
A number of boxes have also been shipped to Kent Dewitt, for distribution to Katrina victims in Alabama.
— C.O.L.O.R. Volunteers, David Anderson and Jennifer Longheyer
March 2005 – South Asia Tsunami Relief, Sri Lanka
Project COLOR Box is complete and was a total success. Over 200 boxes were collected and delivered to children in Sri Lankan tsunami refugee camps, remaining donations were used to refurbished a community center and create a library. This program allowed individuals to pack up a children’s lunchbox or small plastic container with morale building items for child victims of the tsunami. Each COLOR Box was packed full of items like crayons, coloring books, hygiene items, underwear, shoes, small toys, and stuffed animals. It was a great opportunity to give a personalized gift to a child tsunami survivor.
All of our COLOR Box donors did such a great job creating their gifts, the boxes were all filled with so much love and compassion. They were all so very creative and heart warming it was exciting to see all of the personal cards, letters, and pictures that children and adults from all over the United States had created.
We (Scott and Jennifer) had the opportunity to deliver about half of the COLOR Boxes personally it was an exciting moment, seeing all of their smiling faces. They were clapping and cheering before we could even begin handing out the boxes. They had no clue what they were going to get, but they knew it was going to be good. We tried to maintain some order as we quickly found the right COLOR Box for each child; the handle tags made it fast and easy. They were a big hit, no one looked disappointed. Children waited patiently, then said their thanks, and scampered off to check out their treasures. Most would run back toward their tent to show on-looking adults. They were all very appreciative and it was a wonderful experience, I feel lucky having had the opportunity to complete such a project and look forward to future endeavors. Several hundred children were surely touched by this program. Thank you.
— C.O.L.O.R. Volunteer, Jennifer Longheyer