Peninsula Hands on Art was born 10 years ago out of concern for disappearing art classes and shrinking budgets within greater Gig Harbor area schools. Local parents and artists knew the power of art and wanted to support the joy artistic expression can ignite in a child.

The program brings four projects each year to area schools. Every year has a theme with the current one being “The Whimsical Side of Art.” Students will have a chance to make fabric figures, learn drawing techniques, create copper wire pennants, and form sheeting to mimic glass blown art.

Vaughn Elementary School was the first KP school to include Peninsula Hands on Art six years ago.

In order to get the program off the ground, a lead docent (guide) recruits family members to volunteer time for training and teaching the project to classes at their school. Classroom docents then coordinate the lesson with teachers. Peninsula Hands on Art supports the entire process with art supplies, modeled demonstrations on DVD, lesson plans, learning goals and historical references.

Mary O’Boyle, a Vaughn docent since PHOA started there, wants families to get involved because “it is such a great program and builds a cooperative effect between teachers, parents and students.”

Minter Creek Elementary School partnered with PHOA starting in January 2011. At both schools, students get the chance to try different mediums and stylistic art in a safe environment.

“The projects are so fantastic; they always turn out great,” said Tami Miller-Bigelow, a Minter docent since Peninsula Hands on Art launched at that school.

As with any volunteer organization, funding can be a major hurdle.

Numerous area sponsors donate with different levels of funding. Last year though, PHOA Board President Marla Morgan, secured support from Justin Piasecki (The Skin Care Center in Gig Harbor) as a premier sponsor.

The strength of Peninsula Hands on Art is also bounded by the number of volunteers as well. Kristin Nordquist, docent since the program’s inception, welcomes “parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, or any willing adult” to become involved. The two-hour training session and then classroom lesson occurring with each project are the extent of the commitment. The infusion of art into the community is undeniable, as Morgan highlights, with more than 80,000 art projects created in the greater Gig Harbor-area by the end of this school year.

Visit to view a full list of financial contributors, or email the program directly at for information.