Philly Rising: Making special deliveries to heal trauma through creative expression

Philly Rising - Ava Rajappa
Photo credit Courtesy of Arun Rajappa
PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Ava Rajappa, a creative 10-year-old who lives in Virginia, is making a difference in the lives of many kids in the Philadelphia area by giving them artistic tools to help heal their trauma.

“Sometimes when I’m, like, overwhelmed with school work or, like, scared about COVID, sometimes I just do arts and crafts, and they calm me down,” she said.

Over the summer, Art Love has provided more than 2,000 kits to kids in 10 states and Washington, D.C. 

In the 3 months since our founding, we have delivered over 2,000 kits in 10 different states + DC! We could not have done this without donations from our supporters and the support of over 21 nonprofits around the country! We need your help to keep this thing going. Visit the link in our bio to find out how YOU can help Art Love fulfill our dream of bringing art to every kid in America!

A post shared by Art Love Charity (@artlovecharity) on Sep 9, 2020 at 7:47am PDT

In addition to hand-delivering supplies to children in Philly, Camden and Delaware, Ava has also mobilized family and friends in the area to help. Some of her most recent drop-offs include the Laurel House, Families Forward Philadelphia, and Pathways PA.

"Because of COVID and in general, kids will be having a really hard time, especially homeless kids. We thought this would be a cool thing and make kids happier," she said. 

Ava credits Chelsea’s Charity for inspiration. The organization founded by 11-year-old Chelsea Phaire has also sent thousands of art kits across the country.

What Ava’s family thought would be a fun summer project has blossomed into something more, says her Dad, Arun Rajappa. 

“With kids not going into school, the demand from the school systems, they’re asking do you have school supplies, because the kids aren’t able to get them,” he said. 

Their Art Love 360 campaign is also environmentally friendly. They rescue used art supplies, refurbish them, and make bulk donations to shelters and local communities or package them into kits.  

“We also want to help the environment, so we collect used art supplies, broken crayons. We would peel off the wrappers and cut them into really small pieces, then melt them down into molds we have, like emoji molds and Lego molds. That’s also better for autistic kids,” Ava said. 

She says so far, 69 pounds of art supplies have been repurposed and saved from landfills in just a couple of months. However, what she’s most proud of is being a light during difficult times.  

“Probably just being able to make so many kids happy, also like out of states,” she said.