Shelby Farris, 13, of Bridgeville, Delaware, an eighth-grader at Woodbridge Middle School, creates pre-printed greeting cards and then encourages people across the country to color them and send them to veterans, hospital patients, the elderly, grieving families and others who need a little cheer in their lives. A few years ago, Shelby’s mother was staffing an event booth and asking attendees to make greeting cards for veterans and disaster victims, with relatively little success. “I came up with the idea of making cards that looked like a coloring book page, figuring that maybe if all people had to do was color, they wouldn’t be as reluctant to make a card,” said Shelby. It worked! At the next event, nearly 100 people created cards.
Realizing that this was a way to use her love of art to serve others, Shelby began creating coloring card templates and distributing them to individuals and organizations such as Girl Scout troops, American Red Cross chapters, schools, churches, summer camps and children’s hospitals. She also traveled to fairs, festivals and other events to solicit participation in her card project. In addition, Shelby uses a website and social media to suggest other things people can make to brighten someone’s day. So far, she has personally collected and distributed more than 10,000 coloring cards, and over 4,000 other volunteers have reported completing more than 12,000 projects in concert with Shelby’s “HeartArt” campaign, from knitting caps for the homeless to painting rocks for a base in Iraq. “Simple acts of kindness, like helping someone make a greeting card and then sending it to someone to give them a smile, can make a world of difference,” said Shelby.