Even if you don't have children, you probably know it is common for kids to come home from day care/school with art projects. What you may not know, however, is that many of those projects can be made from items you consider garbage. Truly, your trash can be someone else's treasure. Their crafty, artsy treasure.
Some things have obvious artistic potential: egg cartons, toilet paper tubes, tissue boxes. But what about incomplete decks of cards, random paint chips, or empty coffee canisters? How about that book of road maps you retired when you got a GPS, or the leftover invitations to your little one's last birthday? Many ordinary or seemingly useless things can be turned into art if put in the right hands: namely, those of an art class. And with so many schools lacking the funds for art supplies, your donations can really make a difference to those classes.
Our day care has a list of trash-to-treasure items they're always on the lookout for, and there are many things on it that I never would have thought to donate. Your local day care or school might be interested in these items too (you can also ask if they have their own list. You might be surprised to find they do), so check out the list and see what you have lying around the house.
- Berry baskets
- Bubble wrap
- Bread bag closures
- Cardboard boxes from appliances and furniture
- Cardboard tubes (paper towel tubes, toilet paper tubes)
- Coffee and oatmeal canisters
- Egg cartons
- Decks of cards
- Eyedroppers (plastic)
- Fabric and felt scraps
- Fake flowers
- File folders
- Film canisters, sanitized
- Food containers/boxes (empty)
- Formica samples
- Frozen juice lids (sanitized)
- Gardening supplies
- Greeting cards and postcards
- Paper grocery bags
- Measuring tapes
- Milk and OJ cartons and plastic jugs (sanitized)
- Notebooks and notepads
- Nuts, bolts, washers
- Paint sample cards/chips
- Paint stir sticks
- Paint shirts
- Paper of all kinds
- Party supply leftovers (including invitations)
- Plastic foods
- Plastic jars with lids
- Purses and wallets
- Science collections (rocks, shells, seeds)
- Scoops and spoons
- Shoelaces for lacing
- Sticky notes
- Styrofoam blocks and trays (unused)
- Styrofoam pieces (the flat pieces, not peanuts)
- Thread spools
- Toothbrushes for painting
- Wallpaper samples
- Wood scraps (without nails or screws)
- Work-related hats
- Yarn or string
- Yogurt containers (sanitized)
It's pretty gratifying to donate things that will contribute to a child's artistic development. When my daughter's class made egg-carton boats (pictured above), I was so proud. We brought in those egg cartons! We helped the class make those boats! It was a fantastic feeling.
A quick note: before showing up somewhere with a car full of stuff, check to see what is acceptable or needed. For example, our day care will take anything on the list above, but they will not accept anything glass or ceramic (it's too dangerous if something like that breaks in a room full of babies or toddlers).
What items can you add to the list?
RealMom is married to RealDad, a super-buff and handsome red-headed fella, and they have two super-cute and reasonable children, RealGirl (3.5) and RealBoy (1). They were all born and bred in – you guessed it – New Jersey.