Paula Branvold and Carrie Blocher has been co-organizing the LionheART arts and crafts activity group for 8 years. The group began with just two members, who worked in advertising but soon became a tight knight group of creatives who wanted to give back to the local community. Every month, they come to the House with a fun and seasonal craft for kids to put together. This year, they brought back a popular craft from years past, Halloween Jars. Kids have a blast painting and decorating mason jars to make their very own jack-o-lanterns. “We try to bring crafts that are easy enough for any age to put together, but can easily become more complex for older kids,” says Branvold. “The Halloween Jars are great because kids can get immediate gratification and by adding a tea light inside, the pumpkin jars glow just like a real jack-o-lantern. Every kid makes their jar their own and it’s a great way to get kids to use their imaginations.”
Volunteering at the Ronald McDonald House has been a powerful experience for the LionheART group. “One of my favorite memories of a craft night at the House was the time we brought in capes,” Branvold says. “We had pre-sewed all these capes for kids and brought in tons of supplies for them to decorate them and make them their own. I remember there was a tiny two year old girl, who sat on her Dad’s lap and helped him put together her cape. It was the smallest cape that we had and she had so much fun picking out decorations.” Later, Branvold ran into the family again, who stopped her in the hall and told her to wait. They returned with the cape, and told her that it had become a symbol not only for the little girl, but for her family as well. They thought of it as her superhero cape that would help her overcome her illness and said it had gotten them through many difficult days. “You just never know how your one hour of arts and crafts at the Ronald McDonald House is going to help people. I was so glad to see that the simple act of making a craft became a powerful symbol of hope and healing for this particular family.”
If you’re interested in doing an activity night at the House, please check out our activities page for more details! Volunteer groups put on activity nights Mondays through Thursdays at the House and they are extremely popular with the kids who stay here. “It’s a great opportunity to give parents a break and provide a distraction from everything else going on in kid’s lives,” says Branvold. “I recommend that groups come with a project that kids can make their own and doesn’t take too long to assemble. It’s always nice to provide something that is unique and fun that kids wouldn’t ordinarily be able to do without outside supplies.” She also recommends looking at Pinterest for ideas and picking projects that can be assembled without having to wait for part of the craft to set, like waiting for glue to dry. Be sure to check out RMHC on Pinterest – we offer a ton of activities appropriate for kids of all ages.