All About Hope: The Art of Giving in Folsom and El Dorado Hills
Hospital pediatric wards aren’t typically the cheeriest places for kids or their families. Thankfully, All About Hope is trying to change that. In three local hospitals, the nonprofit provides each child age four and older—admitted for at least 48 hours—with a pink and blue “Hope Box” containing an explosion of art supplies, says founder Cindy Costa, because it brightens the kids’ lives and encourages what she calls “courageous creativity.”
The idea to make the boxes evolved over 12 years when Costa’s daughter was in the hospital battling complications from appendicitis. As Costa kept vigil at her six-year-old’s bedside, she witnessed the heartache of other parents tending to their children. If her daughter survived, she vowed to help these families. Brittany did survive, and Costa kept her promise, first bringing home-cooked meals and blankets to the families every other week. Two years ago, when food was no longer allowed, she developed the Hope Boxes. Her inspiration was an autistic boy at the Ronald McDonald House who came out of his shell for the first time when Costa helped teach him to paint. “I thought, ‘How can I make that happen every day?’ And I came up with the idea for the Hope Box.”
She launched All About Hope last June, with the goal of distributing 600 boxes by Christmas. Instead, she handed out 1,700 to Sutter Children’s Center, UC Davis Children’s Hospital’s pediatric unit, and the Ronald McDonald House. With the help of hospital staff, each child is welcomed with a box on his or her bed. Inside is a collection of art supplies: crayons, paints, construction paper, pipe cleaners, drawing paper, a blank book the child can decorate or use as a journal, scissors, glue, a ruler, brown paper bags to make puppets, and more. The box itself can be colored and decorated and kept as a keepsake container. Since December, boxes have also included superhero capes. “These kids are superheroes who fight courageous battles every day,” Costa says. And so are their families: The organization is now planning a similar box for them, with small necessities such as coffee mugs, snacks, toothbrushes, [lip balm], and puzzles. “They’re going through a lot, too,” Costa affirms.
In the near future, Costa hopes to add two more local hospitals for a total of 400 boxes each month—a number that doesn’t cover every child. Long-term, she envisions a resource center with art and music therapy and space for volunteers to sew such items as scent dolls, which are bathed in the mother’s body scent and placed with infants in critical care.
The only limit to Costa’s dream is funding. Volunteers do the work, but the boxes cost $25 each, and the organization needs help with buying art supplies. “The boxes bring hope and healing to these kids and their families,” Costa says. “It’s so rewarding to see a child smile.” allabouthope.net