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Yankee Heritage Tole Chapter

Angel Box Program

In June of 1997, three painters in California realized that in area hospitals, there were many bereaved parents of infants lost to miscarriages or early deaths. When these families lost their new-born infants, they went home with no child in their arms and only a few precious keepsakes given to them by the nursing staff, usually in a plastic bag.

In 1987 a program to provide hand-painted Angel Boxes for parents who lost infants to miscarriages or early deaths grew as painters communicated via the Internet.  Today this program, organized by Tolenet.com, has spread across the world. Hospitals participate in the program from the USA, Canada, Venezuela, and Germany. For over twenty-five years YHT supplied over 100 boxes per year to area hospitals.

Between 2012 and 2013, many hospitals changed the protocols pertaining to accepting donated items. YHT members investigated hospitals in other areas as well as other family service agencies and through the United Way of Greater Nashua, were introduced to several agencies in Southern New Hampshire that accept painted boxes to be used as Memory Boxes.

One of the agencies, the Anne-Marie House in Hudson New Hampshire, is part of a national network of support named “Family Promise” that works with more than 800 community initiatives to combat homelessness throughout the country. Anne-Marie House, founded in 2004 with partial support from a United Way of Greater Nashua venture grant, is named after Sisters of the Presentation of Mary founder Anne-Marie Rivier. They utilize more than 120 volunteers , 24 hours a day, to offer housing and care for up to two years in the 26-bedroom building. During the time a family is at Anne Marie House, they work to get back on their feet. The parents work and save for a home while their children are cared for and attend school. They are able to live together and grow as a family. When the family is ready to graduate to their own home, each member is given a Treasure Box containing an inspirational message appropriate to them and then they use the box for keeping special/meaningful memories.

Similar uses of YHT’s painted boxes are being made by Bridges, in Nashua NH, a domestic and sexual violence support center, and The Front Door Agency of Nashua NH that provides support to homeless individuals and families. In addition the Home Health and Hospice center of Merrimack, NH, uses the boxes as Memory boxes for survivors to keep treasures/memories of their loved ones who have passed.

Throughout the year YHT provides boxes to the members who take them at one meeting, paint them at home with the design of their choice, and then bring them back to the next meeting. We dedicate the January meeting each year to this program. The meeting is free and the afternoon program consists of one to three members, who are also teachers, teaching a new design on a box. Often the designs are originals created by the member.

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