It was just a regular day. I was browsing through Instagram when I came across this account which had this in it’s description –
Donate a 5-minute doodle. Brighten a kid’s day.
What struck me the most was how a simple idea as this can bring happiness into someone’s life
I write about happiness and I write about art. And, I love everything associated with the two. So, I emailed Thomas Drennen, the founder of this awesome community and asked if he would be willing to share his thoughts and a little more about his project with our readers. And, he happily agreed to do so 🙂
So, go ahead and read my interaction with Tom to know more about Doodle Gooder and the work it does!
What is Doodle Gooder?
Doodle Gooder is a content company for kids facing scary stuff. We’re powered by a community of volunteer doodlers from all over the world. They’re some of the kindest, most generous folks you’ll ever meet. Every month, we get together to chase away childhood scaries with our mighty doodles. At it’s most basic level we work with care organizations to find kids who are facing scary health, environmental and/or social situations. We find out the kinds of things they like. And then we launch a doodle campaign that asks people to donate a 5-minute doodle. The campaign kicks off with an email to our community and a post to our Facebook and Instagram accounts. We give the doodlers the names of the kids and their doodle wishes. We ask that doodlers keep the doodles as uplifting and personal as possible—even including their name within the design. The only rule is that the doodle can’t feature a trademark character.
The donation process is super simple. Doodlers just take a quick picture of their doodle and email it to firstname.lastname@example.org. That’s it.
At the end of a campaign, we collect all the doodles and deliver them to the care organization. How the kids receive their doodles is at the discretion of the care organization. We supply the organization with digital files. They take care of the rest. Some print the doodles for the kids. Others pass along the files. We learned early on that timing is everything. In some situations the kids are only with the care organization for a matter of days. So we had to design a simple and speedy way to get them their doodles. Gotta heart technology.
How did you come up with this awesome and unique idea?
Doodle Gooder really started in a NICU a little over 3 years ago. Our oldest son spent the first week of his life in the NICU. It was the strangest, happiest, scariest time for our young family. Here you are one minute holding this incredible thing that you’ve made together, and then, in a matter of hours he’s whisked away to one of the saddest (and bravest) places on Earth. My wife and I were lucky. Our son was one of the healthiest kids in there that week. But the more time you spend in a place like that—surrounded by truly inspiring people—the families, the nurses, the little ones—the more it changes your outlook on this big scary world. The nurses gave our son something the local 4-H troop had made. It was a patterned cloth that was tied together at one end to give it a doll-like shape. It was the simplest thing. My wife was instructed to sleep with it the first night. Then to put it in our son’s crib the next day. It was supposed to absorb her scent and comfort him whenever she had to leave his side. But it also somehow comforted us. I think that was the exact moment. We were just sitting there, sleep-deprived, admiring the simplicity and power of this thing. We wanted to harness that simplicity and use it to help inspire comfort and bravery in other kids facing scary situations. A few days later, I started thinking about doodles—simple expressions of creativity that almost everyone makes—and then throws away. Could we give this expression a purpose bigger than boredom? Could we make an artist’s warm-up doodles more meaningful?
Tell us a little about yourself.
I’m a dad. A husband. A marketer by day. A Doodle Gooder by night.
How do you identify the kids?
We work very closely with kid-focused care organizations (children’s hospitals, Ronald McDonald Houses, etc) to find kids who could use a little doodled joy. We’re always on the lookout for new partners.
Do doodlers have to be professional artists? (Or, I am not a professional, can I share a doodle?)
Anyone can join Doodle Gooder. You don’t have to be a professional artist. We have doodlers of all ages, skill levels and professions. For the kids, it’s the thought that really counts—that all of these “strangers” were thinking of me and doodling for me. That’s the real power. One of my biggest fears is that people will become intimidated by some of the “doodles” we get from our clearly professional doodlers. Every doodle is special. Every doodle matters.
Any stories of reactions or joys after the kids received the doodle?
Our partner care organizations report back after most of the doodle campaigns. They tell us the kids are amazed. Every time. Many hang the doodles on their walls and/or have them framed. I think the care organizations get just as excited about seeing the doodles as the kids do. It’s this surprise that you know is coming…but you just don’t know what you’re going to get. I know I get a little jolt of excitement every time my phone buzzes to let me know a doodle has been donated. I can’t wait to open the email and see it!
Can doodlers meet the kids? If yes, how?
Sadly, the doodlers never meet the kids. At this stage, we’re too small and there’s a whole big world of legal and health restrictions around information, privacy and safety. As we get bigger, we’d love to figure out a way to host doodle events at local care organizations. Honestly, this is one of the things we struggle with the most. How do we help our doodlers see/feel the impact of their donation? It’s something we’re constantly thinking about.
Where are you located and how big is the team?
Doodle Gooder HQ is located just outside of Detroit, Michigan. The Doodle Gooder community is 250+ volunteer doodlers from around the world. Most are here in the United States. But there’s this amazing thing called the internet which helps us recruit worldwide. And in true little engine that could fashion, we have. I still remember the day we got the first few doodles from @doodleyboo in the UK. I was like, “Holy cow! Someone in the UK knows we exist! Wait a minute how’d she find us?!” Oh, right, it’s Instagram.
What are your future plans for Doodle Gooder?
Growing. That’s our plan right now. We suffer from this chicken and the egg thing. We need doodlers. And we need kids. But more importantly, we need the right balance of doodlers and kids. We’re very sensitive to committing to doodle for kids. We don’t want to put ourselves in a situation where we won’t be able to come through. We just won’t do it if we don’t think we can pull it off. So it’s a slow grow. Gaining a few doodlers here. Taking on a doodle requests from kids there. It’s slow, but it’s totally worth it.
Any message that you would like to give the readers?
The best way to see what we’re about is to head over to our Instagram—@doodlegooder. To see the doodles our community donates. How simple they can be. Then, of course, it’d be awesome if folks were inspired enough to join our merry little band of doodlers at doodlegooder.org.
What do you think? Isn’t it wonderful! There is nothing is this world as beautiful as seeing a child smile!
Internet has made connecting with people all over the world so easy. And, Doodle Gooder has just made spreading smiles and happiness so easy! So, what are you waiting for? Grab a pen and a paper and doodle something up for the kids! To contribute your doodles join them here.
Or, if you have any other thoughts or questions, drop them in the comments section below.
Have a great day!