"We're a youth-development program that uses art as a tool to teach children life skills," said Arts-Kids creator and founder Pat Drewry Sanger. "We're not trying to develop art techniques. We're trying to help kids become happier and develop strong life skills to become constructive citizens for the future."
Participants build self-esteem and learn communication and problem-solving skills. They also learn about drug prevention, how to prevent bullying and transitioning to new schools.
The program holds sessions after school in Summit and Wasatch counties, as well as on the Uintah and Ouray Reservations in Fort Duchesne, Randlette and Whiterocks.
Arts-Kids has also made some inroads in the Salt Lake valley, including Midvale.
"We are planning to do a pilot at Midvalley Elementary and we are sharing the cost to implement the program and hope that will lead to our doing some training to help them start their own program," Sanger said.
To continue the program's growth, Arts-Kids has hosted an annual online fundraiser and auction for the past three years. This year, the fundraiser will be held for two weeks, from Monday, July 14, through Monday, July 28.
Potential donors can visit www.biddingforgood.org/arts-kids to make bids on the auction items, said fundraiser organizer Sharon Sams.
"You can go on to the website and you register to bid on items," Sams explained. "That way, if someone out-bids you, you will receive an email from Bidding For Good, which lets you go back and bid on the item again if you want to."
Arts-Kids began working with Bidding For Good three years ago, because it takes the stress out of setting up a gala fundraiser, Sams said.
"Everyone can participate whenever they want," she said. "They don't have to go out at night. They don't have to get a baby sitter.
"They can log on from any place and do it any time," Sams said with a laugh. "I mean, they can do some bidding in their pajamas on vacation."
Holding the auction online also guarantees more money will go to the right place.
"Bidding for Good will take a bit, which is right, but all the rest of the money will go directly to Arts-Kids," Sams said. "There is no overhead, no function and no meeting hall or catering you have to rent to do this."
The auction items range from a photo safari in South Africa to stays at Deer Valley and the Montage and antique collectables.
"Utah Valley University Foundation donated a collection of dolls that were left to them by a doll collector and the dolls are from the 1920 and the 1930s," Sams said. "We also are auctioning off a party at the Promontory Fire Station for 10 kids."
The fireman are going to make lunch and let the kids wear turnouts and play with their tools and water hoses, according to Sams.
Other items include art work by professional local artists, ski-lift passes, tickets to the Heber Valley Railroad, the Salt Lake Bees and the Egyptian Theatre.
"The Park City Institute has given us two lawn tickets for any concert after our auction and Gold Creek Farm, a farm that makes their own cheese out in Woodland, donated a cheese package," Sams said. "Ballet West also donated pointe shoes that were signed by one of their premiere dancers."
Sams said she is always taken aback at the generosity of local residents and businesses.
"The community has been so supportive," she said. "They step up every year and always donate some wonderful items."
Sanger said in addition to the fundraiser, Arts-Kids is looking for sponsors.
"We need sponsors for groups because the RAP Tax has changed its allocation and we've all received a drop in the grants," she said. "That makes it more challenging."
Still, from past experience, Sanger has developed faith in the community and anyone who supports youth-development programs.
"This is our third year we're doing the fundraiser," she said. "We made more last year than we made before and hope more people will participate this year.
"We feel this is important because we are growing," Sanger said. "We want to become more sustainable and expand it so we can be known for helping other organizations start their own programs."