Youth Forward Scholarship Summer 2017 – Handcrafted Joy

Name: Caroline Yancey
From: Douglasville, Georgia
Grade: Senior
School: Yancey Family Homeschool
Votes: 0


Creating art has always brought me great joy. It wasn’t until my freshman year
I discovered how much more joy could be found creating for others.
One night, browsing the internet, I stumbled upon Operation Write
Home (OWH), an organization that sends blank homemade cards to
deployed military all over the world for them to send home. After
reading testimonies of the families and soldiers who had received
cards, I immediately knew I wanted to get involved. With just a few
stamp sets, a pack of cardstock, ink, and a paper trimmer, I embarked
on my most meaningful craft yet.

Every day after school I would sit down at my “craft corner” in
the kitchen to see what I could create. The art of displaying
elements in a pleasing manner on a folded piece of cardstock was new
to me, and between the colors of paper and number of stamps, the
possibilities seemed endless. Trial and error, I found, was the key
to making a card work. Whenever I finished, my table would be
littered with papers, embellishments, tools, and a rainbow of ink.

Because the cards I made were sent overseas, specific guidelines had to be
followed to ensure quality and safety. Cards needed to be sturdy
enough to handle being sent thousands of miles; only the heaviest
cardstock could be used for card bases. Any glitter had to be sealed
in or pass tests to see if it would rub off. If any glitter rubbed
off on soldiers’ uniforms, they became visible to night vision.

As cards stacked up and my techniques improved, I fell more and more in
love with cardmaking. Often while working, I would think of where the
cards might go and who might receive them. The possibility of my
cards being the carrier of a husband’s last words to his wife made me
pour out my heart into creating the highest quality cards I could,
able to be passed down through the generations as a remembrance of a
loved one who gave their life for our country. Perhaps one day a
child will be turning the pages of a family scrapbook, asking about
the picture of a man in uniform, and the card next to it, decorated
with a flag and “missing you” sentiment, and will learn
about their grandfather who fought in Afghanistan.

After learning OWH was shutting down after 2015 due to declining numbers of
troops overseas, I was devastated. Thankfully, soon after, I found
another organization that sends cards to children’s hospitals, and
to date have donated over 1000 cards. I believe the impact of
receiving something handmade is powerful, and hope one day, as a
child psychologist, I can make cards for my patients to show I care
for them deeply. Cardmaking has helped open my eyes to how I can use
my creative abilities to benefit others, and I look forward to the
future opportunities I’ll have to impact people with something as
simple as a handmade card.

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