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Gorham girl collects art supplies to donate to kids in need

On Wednesday, July 10, Jade Tibbetts and her mom brought 60 colorful boxes full of crayons, markers and Playdoh to the Root Cellar in Portland.

PORTLAND, Maine — When 8-year-old Jane Tibbetts of Gorham found out about the hundreds of asylum seekers staying at the Portland Expo, she wanted to do something to help.

So along with her mom, Lexie Caddell, Jade collected as many art supplies as she could and created colorful boxes to give out -- not only to the asylum seekers, but to any Maine child in need.

"I think all kids should be able to express themselves with art and be creative," Jade said.

Jade came up with the idea for the art boxes after a conversation with her mom about people in need, including the influx of asylum seekers who recently came to Portland.

"There are kids coming here who have never had crayons or books, and they don't own these things," Caddell said. "It was important to her."

So, Jade and her mom went shopping, searching for bargains. 

"I like going back to school shopping, but it was like going back to school shopping for a whole bunch of kids," Jade said.

Jade's friends and family wanted to help, so Lexie set up an Amazon Wish List to donate items. Jade was able to surpass her goal of 50 boxes.

On Wednesday morning, Jade and her mom brought 60 colorful boxes full of crayons, markers and Playdoh to the Root Cellar in Portland.

The mother-daughter duo also volunteers at Maine Baby, a new room at the Root Cellar that serves as a safe, free shopping experience for any family in need. 

"People are leaving their kids for a day in diapers because they can't afford to change them. (It) breaks my heart," said Isabelle Beaudoin, an organizer of Maine Baby.

Maine Baby is a collaborative effort between two Facebook groups, Maine Needs and Mom to Mom. Organizers of the groups reached out to the Root Cellar to see if they had space available to stock with all kind of baby supplies. They did.

"So many moms are in need of something, whether it's a lot or a little, and there was really nowhere to access that," Beaudoin said. "We're not going to tell you what you can get, we're not going to pick it out for you -- you can pick it our yourself and have that dignity"

Beaudoin is grateful for all the donations they've received, including Jade's.

"Eight-year-olds want to go to Target and pick out a toy for themselves, and she's raising money to make art kits for kids. She's my new hero."

Jade's Mom agrees.

"She is a good kid who wants to do good things," said Caddell.

"I like doing it for them," Jade said. "It makes me feel good."

Jade has set a new goal. She now wants to collect enough art supplies to make 100 art boxes for kids in Maine who need them.