I was given product to review in exchange for this post. All opinions are my own.
One small act of making small boxes of toys can help children with mental illness.
It all started when my 7 year old asked if we could take toys to the hospital for the kids who had to spend their Christmas in the hospital. Months passed and she moved onto asking if we could deliver Easter items. With gentle reminders every now and again, I finally decided to take the time and figure out how we could help children in need.
I was scrolling through my inbox when I noticed the first day of summer vacation, the school sent an email letting the community know a 7th grade student had taken her own life. The email was about this gorgeous young lady who had struggled with mental illness and decided it was too much. Immediately I felt the knot in my stomach.
Seventh grade. I couldn't stop repeating that over and over in my head. She was SO YOUNG. In 7th grade I was excited we got to go to school dances and dance with boys. I got my period. I passed notes with friends. I played basketball. I had countless weekend sleepovers. I never had any intention of taking my own life. Sure, there were lots of tears and emotions, girl fights and heartbreaks, but the thought never once crossed my mind that I would be better off not here.
I suppose I was almost lucky, and I'm sure there were close friends of mine hurting much more than I was. But as a society we are just beginning to recognize and realize that mental illness is a major issue and can affect almost anyone. This is when I reached out to several agencies and organizations to see if a "toy box"of sorts would be helpful for children in need.
In the end, I settled on offering our toys to the pediatric psychiatric ward at the University of Michigan (now Michigan Medicine). I touched base with a woman who volunteers and graciously accepted our boxes and planned to deliver them to children in need. You can start by contacting your local NAMI chapter to see where toys for children with mental illness is needed.
Of course I had to explain to my daughter that we could not deliver the toys in person. There's lots of privacy laws in effect, especially for pediatric patients, but once I mentioned to her it was going to go to the hospital for kids, she understood and let it be. I do hope someday we can hand deliver things to kids in need.
How to make Toy Boxes for Children with Mental Illness
I highly recommend reaching out to an organization before making a product purchase. This will ensure you meet all of their guidelines, you can also get an average age of the children in need and go from there. Oriental Trading has everything you need for almost any toy box.
- polka dot magic springs
- 2 sets (12 total) superhero favor boxes
- mini flash lights and batteries
- happy face stress balls
- animal hand puppets
- pullback race cars
- toy wiggle snakes
- The directions are simple! Assemble your boxes and place the items inside.
- Close up the boxes.
- Deliver to the organization of your choice.
The hardest part of this project, was to constantly tell my daughter "no" when she asked to have "just one snake" or "one happy face ball." I had to stick to my guns and say NO, because these items were for kids. Kids in need.
I didn't even bother to look at the statistics on children with mental illness, because the numbers don't matter. It's here, it's in our lives, it's happening and it needs to be addressed and not ignored. You can do your own research, ask your doctor, talk to the school and find out what you need to know to recognize the signs and help children with mental illness.
Need some other inspiration for spreading kindness to others?