Subscribe for 17¢ / day

The projects Nicole Shiffler has done with her children are documented on her blog: a tote bag made using a mural by one of her daughters, a skirt crafted out of a kitchen valence, care packages made for the people of Japan.

Over a year ago, Shiffler started her blog, The Sleepy Time Gal, as a way to share the creations and lives of a mother and her four young daughters. Her posts include photos and links to recipes.

Just a few weeks ago, Shiffler posted an item that garnered responses from around the world.

At a recent Sunday service at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, a woman from Japan, who had recently moved to the area from Washington, stood and spoke about her hope to get children and schools to send items to a friend who is a teacher in Japan.

When Shiffler spoke with this woman after church, she learned that the Japanese town of Ishinomaki had been devastated by the earthquake and tsunami in Japan - the children in the town were barefoot, and some had not seen their parents since the natural disaster.

When Shiffler posted the story on her blog, she made the simple request that people commit to sending one box filled with items that were already in their homes.

Her goal was modest: to collect 20 boxes filled with pencils, supplies and letters to send to aid those in Japan.

"Immediately, I just had all of these people. It started with my readers," Shiffler said, "and then it kept going and going and going."

By the end of the first day, Shiffler had received commitments from more than 50 people. Late last week, there were 440 boxes being sent to Japan from places like Australia, Singapore, Dubai, New Zealand, Italy, the United Kingdom and Brazil, Shiffler said.

"The whole world is coming together," she said. "It's been incredible."

Shiffler has been in touch with Japan for updates on the needs, but she doesn't know too many other details of the conditions, she said.

"I know there (are) a lot of needy kids," Shiffler said. "That's what (the teacher) said, ‘The kids just need something to put a smile on their face.'"

Two locations

Shiffler's initial post asks for erasers, pencils, crayons, paper and supplies, letters to the children and items like antibacterial gel, hand wipes and feminine products for adults in the area. The children are scheduled to return to school on Friday, she said.

The response has been so great that the boxes are now being sent to two different locations throughout Japan, Shiffler said.

Shiffler has received donations from Georgie Lou's Retro Candy and Gifts in Carlisle and Nell's supermarket and heard from Girl Scout troops and churches who have taken the care boxes as service projects. She has also received a note from someone in the United States whose post office is offering discounted shipping in support of the project.

"I think candy is one of the universal things that appeals to people," said Stephanie Patterson Gilbert, who owns Georgie Lou's. "I know from my store it doesn't matter the age, the income level or the nationality ... So to me it seemed like ‘yeah, it's something little I'm going to do.'"

In Shiffler's own home, her daughters remind the family to pray for Japan and even donated their homemade crayons, which they had originally planned to sell to earn money toward a swing set, to the students in Japan.

"They've been involved the whole way through," Shiffler said. "We came home and talked about it: what it would be like to be in their shoes and ... how it would feel if they lost their home ... their parents."


Load comments