AAW Charitable Activities: Return to the Community


Beads of Courage

Beads of Courage provides innovative, arts-in-medicine supportive care programs for children coping with serious illness, their families and the health care providers who care for them. Through the program, children tell their story using colorful beads as meaningful symbols of courage that commemorate milestones they have achieved along their unique treatment path. For example, a red bead for each blood transfusion, a yellow bead for each night in the hospital, a star bead for surgery, a white bead for chemotherapy. Their collection of beads becomes a tangible record of their journey. Beads of Courage is a 501(c)3 tax-exempt organization founded in 2005. Their programs are now in 260 children's hospitals, supporting 60,000 children each year in the U.S., Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, and the U.K.

How to Participate

You can contribute to Beads of Courage at the AAW Symposium, individually, and as a Chapter charitable activity.  Woodturners are invited to make and donate lidded boxes to Beads of Courage at the AAW's Annual International Symposium - and throughout the year. Each turned box will be a safe place to hold a sick child's precious beads. Beads of Courage can bring a sense of comfort to the heart and is a beautiful way to honor the strength and courage of children battling serious illness.

  • IMPORTANT: Because the children who will receive the boxes are susceptible to germs, infections, allergies, and may have other sensitivities, it's important that you follow the Beads of Courage guidelines for your lidded box. The guidelines include information about size, finishing (NO PAINT!), and delivery of boxes not being brought to the AAW Symposium. Click here for the Beads of Courage box guidelines


Quick Checklist

Register Your Donation(s)

Guidelines for Making Lidded Boxes
(Please click here to review the Woodworker Guidelines for specific instructions.)

  • Interior dimensions should be 6" x 5" or larger.  
  • Bases should be stable and not tip easily.  
  • Lid finials/knobs should be simple and easy for a child to hold and lift. Not too elaborate or fragile. 
  • IMPORTANT: Finishes must be non-toxic, non-gaseous. Use clear varnish with stain and/or pyrography. NO PAINT! 
  •  Use a Beads of Courage logo bead when possible.  
  • Include your name, date, type of wood on the box bottom.  
  • Optional: Include a personal note of encouragement and/or a business card. 
  • For those not donating to an AAW symposium, please contact April@beadsofcourage.org to donate to Beads of Courage directly, or to have her coordinate with a local hospital for donations. Beads of Courage must establish a hospital connection before you can donate directly to them. Please do not contact hospitals directly until Beads of Courage has provided the appropriate contact. 

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