A few months ago, on a long hike with my Husband, I got hit by a really cool idea/vision.
I thought it would be fun to collage some coffee cans, pack them with toiletries and such and donate them to a Women's Shelter. It sounded easy enough, right?
Downtown Women's Shelter in Los Angeles, along with several bags of gently used clothes and shoes.
I was posting updates about the Coffee Can Charity and have since been asked how it was put together. I thought it'd be easier if I just put in a blog format and posted it for anyone else who's interested in giving it a shot. It's a really amazing journey.
First and foremost, let me be EXCEPTIONALLY CLEAR: I HAD HELP. This type of undertaking is a wonderful, loving BEAST. It is very time consuming and, like hiking way out in the wilderness, it should not be done alone. If I had not had my friends and family from near and afar pitch in and help, this beautiful project would have taken me a year to complete. I am forever grateful to everyone who pitched in.
So, my first tip: Gather your humans and see who's interested in pitching in to help!!
My way of doing things may not be yours. And that's totally OK. There's no "right or wrong" here, just what I did and everyone who does this will have their way!
1. Phone the center you're planning to give the donations. Let them know what you're planning and ask if there's anything specific they NEED. (Most will always say toiletries, socks, bras and panties are the top of the list.)
2. Coffee Cans. They need to be in great shape and wiped out with a moist cloth, so they don't have residue. You can ask your peeps to save their cans for you and/or ask your neighborhood grocery store for theirs, if they have one of those coffee tasting stations. (Trader Joe's was AWESOME about saving me some cans) Collect your goal number of cans. Keep the lids.
3. Cut out a ton of cool/pretty/inspiring images and phrases from magazines, newspapers or comic books. Again, ask around if other people have magazines! I got lucky with a lot of different free magazines that Los Angeles has to offer and a few others that I had from a subscription like "O".
4. Grab some Mod Podge from your neighborhood craft supply shop. (Like Michael's) Mod Podge makes for excellent glue as well as gloss. I like to mix mine with a teensy bit of water and apply with sponge brushes vs regular paint brushes. (Saves from paint brush hairs getting caught up in the fray.) After your collage of pretty and inspiring images on each coffee can dries, then you go over the whole thing with the sponge brush and Mod Podge and give it a slight glossy finish. Want to make it easier for yourself? Grab some friends, throw on some awesome tunes and use that time to catch up and laugh and enjoy yourselves!
5. The Stuffings!
*SOCKS! My friend bought and donated 30 pairs of ankle socks to this project and each can had a pair of brand new socks in it.
*Travel Size items are what fits in these cans. Unused shampoos/conditioners/soaps/ showercaps from hotels are PERFECT. If you are someone who travels a ton and saves those, now is the time to use them. Ask your friends. You can also purchase travels size items from drugstores or places like Target and Walmart.
*Thanks to a donation, I ordered travel size toothbrushes from THIS SITE. I ordered them well before I knew the cans would be ready, because they took a few weeks to arrive. They arrived fine and seemed sturdy enough to be used for awhile.
*Travel Sized toothpaste, mouthwash, a hair tie and deodorant were also added to each can. I had a couple friends go the extra distance by helping purchase those items! Again, try to make all the items you're donating previously unused. I also added an emery board and tampon to each one.
*My friend and I went through all of our jewelry and pulled out gently used, but still in great shape, jewelry. Each coffee can had at least one piece of jewelry in it.
*Another one of my friends who helped had the great idea of including, on the top of the pile of goodies, a small scroll. The small scroll, wrapped in red string, had an uplifting statement/quote hand-written on it. Each can has a scroll in it, at the top, in the hopes it's the first thing seen and read.
*The very same friend suggested that we label the lids of the cans. I was thinking a generic name tag, but she suggested we make even that more personal. So some of the lids say things like: "This belongs to one strong woman!" What a great idea, right??
6. Another one of my friends and I went through our closets and unloaded a vast amount of gently used clothes, shoes and purses to add to the donation pot.
7. Delivery Time!
I delivered all the items today and was beyond grateful that we worked so hard together to try to give someone a smile in their day. We all have hard times and we all have a heart in need. The best gift we can give others and ourselves is a piece of our hearts in exchange for a smile. The women in charge of the Shelter couldn't have been more thrilled at receiving something so personal for their peeps.
Sending all of you a little light and peace on your journey.
With Huge Gratitude,
We did this, together.