Oceanside High School 10th-grader Autum Blois has been collecting donations of art supplies for hospitals since she was 10.
Autum, who turns 16 on Nov. 6, was born with several medical conditions that require hospital treatment nearly every month, including colonic neuropathy, diabetes, lung disease and a genetic disorder. She is also on the autism spectrum and is immuno-deficient. During her hospital stays, making art keeps her spirits up.
To ensure that other children in the hospital have the same opportunities to color and paint while receiving treatment, she is hosting a drive-by art supply collection at her home, 567 Derby Drive North in Oceanside, on Nov. 7 from 2 to 4 p.m.
“We are incredibly proud of her,” said Autum’s mother, Maureen. “She doesn’t think anything of it. She thinks it’s something that should be done and just does it.”
The Covid-19 pandemic has been difficult for Autum, Maureen said. Aside from doctor’s appointments, she hasn’t left the house since March because her illnesses make her vulnerable should she contract the virus. She is now learning fully remotely.
“It’s definitely hard for her,” Maureen said. “She feels a little cooped up. She uses art and does some amazing art at home and keeps in touch with people through Zoom.”
This caused the Bloises to cancel the Sweet 16 party they had planned for Autum’s birthday this year. Instead, they are having the supply drive the day after her birthday.
“We have a two-hour window set up at our home,” Maureen said. “She was supposed to have a big Sweet 16, so in lieu of that, we’re having people stop by and donate crayons, pencils and other art supplies that they have or gift cards so that she can go purchase them [and give them to the hospitals.]”
Six years ago, Autum asked her parents why the nurses could only bring four crayons and a piece of paper when she asked for art supplies. Maureen explained that hospitals don’t have the resources to provide those things, so Autum wanted to do something about it.
Since then, she’s been collecting art supplies by hosting paint nights and other events. She held the first supply drive at Oaks School No. 3, where she attended elementary school in Oceanside.
The family first gauges the needs of local hospitals, such as Mount Sinai South Nassau and Winthrop Hospital, and then donates to the facilities where Autum receives care — Boston Children’s Hospital and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. They call the project “Autum’s Colors.”
“She only likes to draw on plain paper with pencils,” Maureen said. “She likes to do cartoon art — she’s a pencil and paper kind of person, but she knows she’s in the minority, and most kids like color.”
Autum has also raised money with GoFundMe campaigns. Last year, she donated $6,600 to SIBS Place, where her 11-year-old siblings, Ashanti and Kai, have attended. The money she raised went toward art supplies for SIBSPlace’s virtual summer camp this year.
Autum’s Colors art supply drive is on Nov. 7 from 2 to 4 p.m. at 567 Derby Drive North in Oceanside. All donations will go to children staying at local hospitals and out-of-state hospitals that have cared for Autum.