Handmade: Nonprofits work to keep Detroit students learning

Jocelynn Brown
The Detroit News

Arts & Scraps has developed a partnership with Brilliant Detroit and Mint Artists Guild to provide free access to educational and creative materials for families with children unable to attend school due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Arts & Scraps is honored to be able to continue serving the community in whatever ways we can while helping people remain safe at home. This creative partnership has allowed us to fill a need we are seeing in the community even while everything else we normally do has to be shut down," said Ang Adamiak, Arts & Scraps executive director. "Our staff and community of supporters remain dedicated to serving students across Detroit while making the world a bit greener and healthier."

According to their websites, Brilliant Detroit provides "a new approach to kindergarten and readiness in neighborhoods," and Mint Artists Guild "guides talented Detroit teen artists." 

Ang Adamiak, executive director of Arts & Scraps, checks the contents of supply kits to be donated to Detroit families with school-age children.

Both were formed in 2015, and their work with Arts & Scraps grew out of a need to get the creative supply kits to families in Detroit. "We had put some kits together but didn't have means for distribution. We didn't have a way to get them to families," said Adamiak. "Then Vickie Elmer, Mint Artists Guild's executive director and co-founder, reached out to us. She had been talking to people through Facebook with a similar idea, and she had talked with Cindy Eggleton, CEO and co-founder of Brilliant Detroit, about distribution through their houses (locations) that are in neighborhoods all across Detroit. So, we would produce the kits, Mint would help transfer the kits to Brilliant, and Brilliant would distribute them."

Persons delivering the kits to Brilliant wear both masks and gloves. "We're taking every single precaution we possibly can," said Adamiak. (But) the delay now is that they're sitting in the (Arts & Scraps) warehouse, untouched for a week, because the virus can live on surfaces for up to a few days, plus our staff is also taking the necessary safety precautions." 

Arts & Scraps supply kits include industrial materials, beads, coloring pages, crayons, thread cones and more.

The bagged kits are filled with various industrial materials, plain paper, crayons, beads, sock loops, thread cones and pieces of fabric. Coloring pages, made by Mint Artists Guild members, are also included. There are enough supplies in each kit for three kids, depending on what they're used to create. The kits are geared toward those in "first grade through maybe sixth or seventh grade."

"We also put a guide in there on how to get free internet through the COVID-19 lockdown," said Adamiak. "And, we're now working on doing some online tutorials and videos on social media, including Facebook and our website --"

The kits are being put together by about six Arts & Scraps staff members. "Normally, we would use volunteers, but to keep our staff employed, they're the ones making the kits," she added. "It takes about five hours to make 50 kits, not counting the organizational work we have to do because we can't all be in person, assembly-line style. We usually would crank out a thousand kits in six hours."

So far, 500 kits have been distributed, and the cost to put together one is $10. Money continues to be raised for more kits. Adamiak stated, "Brilliant Detroit worked with a few foundations for the first 2,000 kits. We (also) have a gofundme page,  and we've applied for grants. Funds raised are being used to get "the kits to families without them having to pay anything. And, it's the only way for us to survive this crisis and continue to serve. All of our income from the store being open and our educational program has been cut off. 

"We've so far, raised enough for 2,500 kits," she continued, however, their goal is 5,000. "I think our plan is to at least go through the 'stay at home' order, but past that, kids are still going to be at home through fall, so I think at least through the school year. We've been talking about continuing with this even after the pandemic, but right now, we can only plan as far as the school year."

If you'd like to receive a kit for your family, call (313) 483-8992, or send an email to to schedule an appointment for pick-up. Brilliant has houses/locations at 16919 Prairie, 13800 Eastburn, 12261 Maiden, 15509 Heyden, and 9104 Rathbone, all in Detroit. For more locations, visit

Persons interested in helping to cover the cost of supply kits can make a donation at

 Detroit News Columnist Jocelynn Brown is a longtime Detroit crafter. You can reach her at (313) 222-2150, or

Contact Arts & Scraps (16135 Harper, Detroit) at