When Kit Hoover was growing up, giving back was never just a once-in-a-while thing. Her mom’s motto was simple: “In life, do as much as you can, for as many people as you can, for as long as you can.” Ever since she volunteered at her first soup kitchen in eighth grade, Hoover has been committed to helping the lives of others, whether it’s through her work with the Make-A-Wish Foundation or by simply keeping a stash of wool socks on hand to share with people living on the streets. Knowing this little bit of history, we had a good feeling when we asked her if she and her three kids, Campbell, 14, Hayes, 12, and Crowley, 9, would like to join our new Capes for Kids campaign.
She accepted immediately. The selling point? “When you have kids making something for other kids, the cause becomes more relevant for them,” she says. “They feel more connected to it. They think, ‘That could be me in the shelter,’ or, perhaps more importantly, ‘Wow, I can’t believe how fortunate I am.’”
So Hoover recruited her friend Lauren Bender and her three children to spend an afternoon making capes together. “We had felt, glitter, and puffy paint everywhere,” Hoover says. When the kids saw the setup, they couldn’t wait to get started. In fact, they were so excited that they began decorating capes with their own initials, forgetting for a minute why they were there. The moms slowed them down to reiterate:
“We told them that we’re making these capes to help children feel safe and cared for when they enter shelters,” Hoover explains. “Hopefully they’ll feel just like a superhero, so let’s just keep that in mind as we’re gluing and doing all the glitter paint.”
With that quick redirection, the kids started their new designs, using flames, flowers, lightning bolts, and, of course, a lot of bright colors. “They really wanted to help the kids feel strong, happy, and free,” Hoover says. And one cape wasn’t enough—instead, each child made three or four.
While they were busy working, the kids also started talking. They imagined the children who would receive their capes, how they might feel when they got them, and what their lives must be like. Even though Hoover’s kids regularly serve breakfast at a local shelter with their classmates, their only contact had been with adult residents. Until they started this project, it hadn’t occurred to them that children are affected by homelessness too. “It was so foreign to them,” Hoover says. “They had so many questions.” The kids asked their moms where the children sleep, how long they could stay at the shelter, what happened if they couldn’t find one, if they have toys or go to school—all issues that most of us take for granted.
When they finished their capes, the younger children gave them a spin around the yard before packing them up for our partner, Enchanted Makeovers, to distribute. That’s when Hoover’s son Crowley asked her, “Do you think my capes are going to make someone happy?” She told him she hoped so. “Wanting to make somebody else happy is a good feeling, and it’s one I want him to grow up with,” says Hoover. “As a parent, you’re always trying to teach your children some life lessons when they’re not Learning a Life Lesson. Capes for Kids made it easy.”
We are thrilled to be working with two amazing volunteer organizations to bring this campaign to life.
This Taylor, Michigan–based nonprofit transforms shelters into safer, more nurturing places for women and children to rebuild their lives after escaping homelessness, domestic violence, or human trafficking. Founder Terry Grahl has been distributing capes to kids in need for six years as part of special care packages that include handmade pillowcases and dolls. “These capes are like armor that fills children with strength, imagination, and hope,” says Grahl. This is the second time we have joined forces with her group, and we know we can help them reach more kids in need than ever. Visit enchantedmakeovers.org.
We knew generationOn, the youth division of Points of Light, the world’s largest volunteer organization, would be a key player in helping us deepen the connection to kids helping kids. And we were proud to provide grants to 10 of genOn’s Kids Care Clubs so they could make capes for their local shelters. “These types of projects are a great example of what we do all year: provide opportunities for kids to make a positive difference in their communities,” says Sarah Fanslau, senior director of clubs. Learn more at generationon.org.
With the kids off from school, now is the perfect time to gather a few friends and throw a charitable celebration. With just a few basic supplies and a couple of hours, you can make something that’s guaranteed to make a child smile. Here’s how to get started:
1. Download our party kit. We have everything you need, including a supply list, templates for three amazing designs, plus loads of emblem templates like stars and lightning bolts to decorate with. You’ll even find discussion guides and reflection exercises from generationOn to do with your kids before and after the project. Craft Styling by Elizabeth MacLennan.
3. Donate your capes! You can send them to a local shelter or directly to Enchanted Makeovers at: Enchanted Makeovers FamilyFun Capes for Kids 12663 Hipp St. Taylor, MI 48180