On November 22, students from The Swain School, a private elementary school in Allentown, partnered with local nonprofit, Joyful Giving, to pack necessity bags for fellow community members. The event was made possible in part through a United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley TeenWorksTM grant of $1,000 secured by Sophia Brancato and Lia Nnenkwo.
Joyful Giving’s mission is to package essential items in an aesthetic way, to bring joy to recipients. These necessity bags, also known as Joy Maker bags, include items such as socks, shampoo, body wash and lip balm. Every bag also includes a piece of chocolate and is tied with a ribbon to mimic the look of a present. Child-focused Joy Maker bags include stickers, fidgets, crayons and a coloring book.
“A Day of Joyful Giving,” is a collaboration between Hannah Votta Coleman, the founder of Joyful Giving, and Darah Donaher, an instructor at Swain School and former TeenWorks member. The two began their partnership in February of 2022 when Darah led Community Service Elective students in creating Joy Maker bags. The pair sought to do a similar event, but by engaging all Swain students in the project this time, and thus held A Day of Joyful Giving on Swain’s Harvest Feast Day.
Students from pre-k to eighth grade lent a hand to their community members by learning the importance of the Joy Maker bags and how to create them.
”The objective of the event was clear—simply to create joy, because that’s the mission behind Joyful Giving,” shared Hannah. “Seeing the students actively engaged while building the bags was priceless.”
“I like being part of Joyful Giving because I love the idea of giving to those who don’t have what I have, and I like to know I’m helping them feel happy,” said Lia, current TeenWorks member.
The students packaged nearly 1,000 bags which will be distributed to Promise Neighborhoods of the Lehigh Valley, Operation Address the Homeless, New Bethany Ministries, Lehigh Valley Reilly Children’s Hospital and Community Services for Children.