Founded by Carolina King in 2020, Arts for Smiles was formed out of a passion to help children. In 2019, as the president of a local art society, Carolina was able to organize an art outreach project with the Palms West Hospital Child Life Specialist, to bring art to the children at the hospital. In the first hospital visit, we brought paint, brushes and variety of crafts for the kids to choose from. Some joined us in the colorful playroom, while others, too sick to visit, had craft projects delivered to their rooms. We watched the children happily focused on the projects, talking with us and their parents, forgetting about life for awhile.
This experience was life changing. As we watched the children interact with art and forget how they felt physically, if only for a moment, it had a major impact on Carolina. She realized this was a real life calling. Through her previous non-profit experience, she had created a network of contacts and became skilled with event planning and fundraising. She created a team that would help establish a full time effort to bring healing to the community through the arts.
As our world changed in 2020 due to the COVID-19 crisis, it became clear that our outreach needed to be expanded, knowing that many children rely on school for their meals and many went without basic essentials because of financial stress. At that time, Carolina decided it was time to make Arts for Smiles a full time effort. In the summer of 2020, we started our first fundraiser for a Back to School drive, followed immediately by our Holiday Personal Care Packages. In our first year, our fundraising resulted in delivery of 500 seasonal care packages to families in underserved communities.