FLEDGLING FLYER: ADVENTURES OF AN ART ANGEL
by C. Pleasants York
Last summer I earned my wings as a Brush and Palette Art Angel. My delightful duty was contacting teachers in the Lee County Schools, asking what art supplies they needed for their students, ordering the supplies, and delivering them to the classrooms. The generous donations to Brush and Palette from members and from people in the community made Art Angels a breeze – and a learning experience for me and for my husband, Guy.
It was a summer of Blick, Triarco, Sax, and Brameco. It was the summer when I learned the skill of ordering on-line using a credit card and the joy of calling in the order to a real person. It was a summer when I hungered for the item number, knowing that if I did not know it, I would have to pore over a 600-page catalog trying to find the specific color and size of a tempera paint bottle with glitter or of 11 by 14 pads of yupo paper.
It was a summer of searching websites to check out coupons for percentages off or free shipping.
It was a summer when I learned not to call in orders at the end of the day. One company totally forgot to put the information into the computer. When I called to ask about the order that did not come, I had to choose between whether I wanted information on the company’s art supplies or janitorial supplies. An elderly clerk on the phone broke into tears when she realized they had made a mistake and then called me on my cell phone twice the next day to apologize and then three days later to make sure that the new order had arrived.
It was the summer when a teacher ordered four colors of tempera paint – three of them were not available, and the fourth was being phased out in a month. The company sent four bottles of the soon-to-be-unavailable cobalt blue.
It was the summer when our doorbell rang and we were greeted with UPS, FedEx, and US Mail, all boxes full of art supplies. It was a summer when we had to move the boxes out of the way to open the screen door.
It was a summer of stepping over piles of boxes in the living room, loading them into the van for the trips to the school, activating the GPS a couple of times. It was a summer of sitting in the long lines of bus traffic when we came too near the end of the day. And since it was a summer when the temperature soared to 100 degrees, it was a time of worry over whether the crayons in the boxes might melt before we could get them into the air conditioned schools.
It was a summer of meeting kind and considerate teachers, secretaries, custodians, school nurses, principals and students at the schools. We carried baskets and rolled wagons and AV carts out to unload the van, and once we even used a wheelchair. Some of the boxes contained high-density clay, frames, or reams of paper. One box was seven yards of canvas. Other boxes contained paint brushes, googly eyes, and pipe cleaners. When it came to carrying boxes, Guy and I preferred the latter!
Our grandson, Noah, traveled with us a few times to help open the doors and carry boxes. He was mesmerized by the artwork on the walls, some done with the help of our Brush and Palette members. I particularly like the announcement over the intercom to the whole school at Warren Williams School: “The Art Angels are here!” Everyone who came down the hall greeted us with such pleasure.
It was a summer of worry about the packages delivered to the porch at our house downtown. While we were in Costa Rica for nine days, a box of 12 watercolor pads disappeared off our porch. When it did not arrive in a timely manner, I double-checked the order date by going through all the numbers in my phone for the month of July. When the clerk from School Specialties checked her records, she cheerfully resent the order free of charge.
My work with the Art Angels offered me and my husband, Guy, a fulfilling summer of communicating with teachers, ordering supplies, and visiting classrooms. What a joy to see so many smiling faces – students and teachers! My favorite memory from my time with Art Angels came with an e-mail from Art Specialist Kim Daniels who said, “Thank you for the art supplies Deep River students received and are now using. It’s good to know we have angels watching over us!!!”
Learn more about Sanford Brush & Palette Club’s Art Angels program here.