IT’S NOT a new idea, but it’s a powerful one – kids love simple things. That applies to toys and crafts as well, and you’d be hard pressed to find a child who wouldn’t have a great time with nothing more than a cardboard box. That’s the idea that led Carrie Christian to create the Scribble Subscription Box.
Christian, a local artist and art teacher who happens to be married to beloved Savannah music icon Keith Kozel, started the service alongside artist Kristie Duncan with the idea that kids could start with a box and end up with something truly magical.
“I very much believe in the creative process as being something that’s really helpful for kids, and parents too,” Christian tells us. “I think that especially in today’s world where kids are always on their phone or tablet or iPad, and it starts earlier and earlier, making art really helps kids with problem solving and creative solutions. I’m really passionate about kids having hands on creative play.”
The subscription begins with a cardboard box that is filled with components to build a house out of, and each month kids are sent new art projects that can all be added to the house. The idea is that the houses grow with each monthly shipment, and the subscription lasts for one year.
“A year-and-a-half ago we opened up Henny Penny [Art Space & Café], and started making art kits. We just really loved making them, and I think we felt like we were putting out a quality product,” she says. “We were thoughtful about how we tried to design them, to where they weren’t over in just one second. Kids could keep on playing with them and adding to them.”
Right now, Christian is raising funds to get the subscription service off the ground – using Kickstarter as a platform and offering incentives for different levels of donation. Some of the incentives include framed prints and specially-designed versions of the boxes from Duncan. Backers can also get a special, one-hour party with the theme of their choice at Henny Penny – which includes an art project for guests, mini cupcakes, and lemonade. The highest-tier incentive available is one-of-a-kind artwork created by Duncan (and hand delivered, if you live in or near Savannah).
Worth noting is the special “super early bird” subscription pricing that’s available only through the Kickstarter fundraiser, which gives you the full year-long subscription for a lower price. The Kickstarter fundraiser will go until November 8, and only receive funds if it meets its goal of $35,000.
From the early stages of development, it was clear that the project could be used as not only a creative outlet for kids, but also act as a therapeutic tool and a refuge for kids who were either in the hospital or whose parent was in the hospital.
“My husband Keith has a rare blood cancer, so we have to spend a lot of time in the hospital. As a mom I think, ‘This must be impossible for kids and families with kids.’ I can’t imagine, really, anything worse,” she says.
“I’m not a doctor and I can’t really do all that much to help them, but the way that I felt like I could help would be to lift their spirits. To give them something to fill that time, so that you’re not always just waiting. The more you’re in a hospital, the more down you get. So anything that can even pull you up out of the bed or excited even a little bit can really help.”
One of the most significant details about the Scribble Box service is Christian and company’s partnership with the Children’s Hospital. The biggest goal with the service is to be able to donate one box to the hospital for every subscription sold. Those hospital boxes will be specially designed and given to a child in the subscriber’s name.
“I’m really familiar with what a hospital room design is like,” Christian says. “So as soon as we started designing, we said, ‘Okay, we’re also going to be designing for a hospital room.’ We picked a box that was big enough to play in but not so big that you can’t fit it on the tray. We worked really closely with the hospital to make sure these were everything they wanted them to be, and they were!”
“Anybody who’s had any experience with being in a hospital, they understand. They understand the smells, the sights, all of it. They get so clearly why this might be something that’s helpful,” she adds of the hospital box initiative.
Christian has been able to do amazing thing with the project so far, including sending boxes to a family in Texas whose son is battling brain cancer.
“He has to relearn everything,” she explains. “He has a little sister who obviously wants to go visit her brother [in the hospital]. It’s tricky as a parent because you don’t want your kids to have horrible associations with the hospital, so having [the Scribble box] as something that’s fun and engaging will hopefully help her with hospital association so that she’s not feeling scared or anxious when she’s there. Instead, there’s a ray of light – something to look forward to along with seeing her brother. It just takes away some of the fear.”
The idea of her boxes also serving as a therapeutic tool for kids is an important factor in what makes the project so special for Christian.
“One time I asked my daughter, ‘How do you play?’ because I don’t really remember since I’m older,” she says.
“And she says, ‘It’s stories in your mind.’ Which is true! So, these boxes are art play. They’re designed to basically be art that you make and also play with. It’s not just an art project where you make it and it’s done. Play is so valuable, and it’s honestly an escape. That’s what’s so nice about this, is that you can be anywhere, and you get a break from your surroundings.”