Chairs for Charity

By The Arty Teacher - June 11, 2023

These brightly coloured chairs, have been painted by middle school students under the skilful guidance of art teacher Kirsten Durbin who teaches at Porter Ridge Middle School. What makes them even more impressive is that they are a project that has raised money for charity.

Kirsten told me that it all started with a very personal cause back in 2009.

“I lost my sister-in-law to breast cancer at the age of 41. I was wanting to do community service through art for my NJAHS club as well as the art department at our school. The American Cancer Society was on my mind.”

Inspiration came from a colleague who had attended an art conference. They saw a presentation where a 5th grade art teacher did this with his students. This made her confident that her middle school students could do this. She does this project with her 8th graders, aged 13 and 14 years old.

The project has grown over the years. In the first year, about 20 chairs were created, and they raised around $1,200. This year they had over 50 chairs and raised over $6,000!

Kirsten and her school have done this for 12 years now. It would have been more but they had to skip 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic.

They always support the same charities: the American Cancer Society and a local organisation that helps women fighting breast cancer called Cindy’s Hope Chest.

How Long Does It Take?

They start the project in early March and do the chairs during class. Kirsten sees them every other day for an hour and 20 minutes. When they get closer to the deadline, they also work after school. The event is always held on the first Friday of May every year.

Useful Tips:

Kirsten told me that chairs are donated by parents, teachers, school staff and the community. Habitat for Humanity has donated a lot too.

 They sand them first and then apply a primer before they start drawing and designing them. They then paint using acrylics and even interior house paints.

It’s clear to see that students have the freedom to choose their own themes for their chairs and respond very creatively.

If you’ve enjoyed this post on Chairs for Charity, why not register to hear about future posts? You’ll be able to download 3 of my free resources every month too. Fantastic!

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The Arty Teacher

Sarah Crowther is The Arty Teacher. She is a high school art teacher in the North West of England. She strives to share her enthusiasm for art by providing art teachers around the globe with high-quality resources and by sharing her expertise through this blog.

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