DANBURY, Conn. -- Chelsea Phaire is just finishing fifth grade this year, but she could graduate in kindness. She's already helped thousands of her peers find joy and comfort in art.
It all started in August of last year, when the 10-year-old girl from Danbury, Conn., asked for art supplies for her birthday so she could build kits for kids affected by school shootings. Since the coronavirus pandemic struck, she has been sending them to children in homeless facilities and in foster care to try and cheer them up.
"It means a lot because of the coronavirus," Chelsea told Fox News over the phone. "It's just really nice to know kids are helping kids during this really stressful time. It really makes me feel happy."
Chelsea, who said she was bullied in school, turned to art when she lost her swim coach to gun violence a few years ago.
She founded Chelsea's Charity last year to help others and, as a first step, she set up an Amazon wishlist. When someone donates enough supplies, she explained, she fills the art kits with markers, crayons, colored pencils, sketch pads and paper, gel pens and coloring books. Sometimes she adds something fun, like colored pipe cleaners.
Before the pandemic, Chelsea and her mom traveled to shelters and schools from Oklahoma to New Jersey, dropping off the art kits and, in some cases, teaching kids how to use art to boost their mental health and express themselves.
Since stay-at-home orders, she has mailed more than 1,500 kits to at least 12 states. The latest batch of 75 kits went to Philadelphia schools.
She also has started recording video messages and sending them online, since she can't physically be there to hand them.
In a recent video to a class at a Hartford school, she told students: "Art is important to me because no matter how bad I'm feeling...my art supplies are always there for me...so no matter what happens, know that art is a start!"
Chelsea's mom, Candace Phaire, a former classroom teacher and now an early childhood professor, said, "Kids listen to kids more than they would adults."
Chelsea's dad does the heavy lifting and her mom helps coordinate.