Help From Home
Help serve hospitalized children by volunteering from home.
Caitlin’s Smiles encourages and welcomes volunteers helping from home. Due to the pandemic, we have been unable to welcome as many volunteers to our facility as we had prior to the COVID-19 situation. We have a great need for volunteers to help from home. We ask that people who would like to volunteer from home or elsewhere do so at a time and place that is convenient and safe for them.
We have a variety of activities that volunteers can work on at home:
- Create greeting cards
- Decorate paper bags for our “Bags of Smiles”
- Assemble Craft Kits
- Organize a supply drive
When volunteering from home, keep track of your expenses and volunteer hours. Volunteers can keep track of their hours on our Volunteer Time Sheet. Expenses and items can be listed on our In-Kind Donation Form. Please include these forms with your completed items. You will be issued a receipt for tax purposes from our organization. If you need confirmation of your volunteer hours for a project, please let us know.
1. Create Greeting Cards
Homemade cards bring smiles to the faces of children of all ages. A card is included in each “Bag of Smiles” given to children staying in hospitals, and in every “Coping Kit” given to kids receiving treatment in emergency departments and day clinics. This is a great activity for volunteers of all ages. Volunteers most likely already have the needed supplies right in their homes. Paper — along with crayons, markers, pencils, and the desire to help — is all you need!
When making cards, please keep in mind the following:
Cards may be any size and shape. Card stock or construction paper may be used.
Please do not use “Get well soon” or similar phrases. Many of the children are facing terminal or chronic conditions and may not get well; rather, they learn to live with their condition.
Please stay away from using any type of religious message. Our program reaches children of many different religious backgrounds.
Here are some theme ideas to consider when creating your cards:
- Sending Smiles (smiley-face theme)
- Sending Bear Hugs (bear cutout card)
- Thinking of You
- Sending Warm Wishes
- You’re a Star (shooting stars)
- You’re a Champion (sports drawing)
Children generally love bright, bold and silly cards, along with jokes, riddles and funny sayings.
If you would like to download and print card-creating instructions, click here. To view examples of cards, click here and here.
2. Decorate Paper Bags for our “Bags of Smiles”
We ask volunteers to use paper bags with flat bottoms. These bags have handles at the top and should be large enough to fit a regular-sized coloring book. Bags that are 8″ x 10″ (and larger) are a good size for our “Bags of Smiles.” These paper bags can be found at your local dollar stores, craft stores, large retail stores, as well as online at websites like ULINE and Amazon. We have these bags listed on the Caitlin’s Smiles Amazon Wish List.
When decorating the paper bags, please keep in mind the guidelines from the cardmaking section above. Those guidelines also apply to decorating the paper bags.
If you would like to view or download the bag-decorating instructions, click here.
3. Assemble Craft Kits
Caitlin’s Smiles has designed several different craft kits for kids of all ages. Our volunteers diligently assemble tens of thousands of our kits every year. These kits are then placed into “Bags of Smiles,” Coping Kits, and Craft Kit boxes that, in turn, are provided to hospitals for their pediatric patients.
When assembling craft kits at home, you will need to:
- Download instructions
- Purchase supplies
- Assemble kits
- Keep track of volunteer hours on our Volunteer Time Sheet.
Drop off or ship your completed kits, along with volunteer information and hours, to our office at
3303 North 6th Street, Harrisburg, PA 17110
We have a variety of popular kits that we need help with assembling:
Click on the kit, and the link will take you to the instructions:
- Foam Door Hanger Kits (Your Instructions) (Kit Inserts)
- Coloring Kits (Your Instructions) (Kit Inserts)
- Braided Friendship Bracelet Kits (Your Instructions) (Kit Inserts)
- Foam Bookmark Kits (Your Instructions) (Kit Inserts)
- Origami Kits (Your Instructions) (Kit Inserts)
4. Organize a Supply Drive
Our organization provides arts and crafts supplies to thousands of hospitalized children each year. In a typical year, we provide our activities to upwards of 175,000 sick and injured kids in Pennsylvania, Ohio, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, and Washington, D.C.
Due to this enormous output of activities, we are always in need of supplies. You are welcome to donate individually, or — if you would like to do more — you can organize a supply drive. Collect items from people you know, like coworkers, Scout troops, students, customers, etc. Supply drives can collect one type of item or a variety of items.
Items that we always seem to be low on include:
- Coloring books (all ages)
- Journals for teens
- Play-Doh (all sizes)
- Foam and paper stickers
- Reclosable zip-locking plastic bags (any size, any brand)
Once your supply drive is complete, drop off or ship your items to: 3303 North Sixth Street, Harrisburg, PA 17110
*Please include your name and contact information. *Please include the value, if you can.