LOS ANGELES/YEREVAN — This summer, Mer Hooys completed its fourth Smiley Pack program supporting the children and families of Artsakh who fled their homes and economic livelihood in the fall of 2020 to escape the war. Thousands of mostly women and children from Artsakh are now living in Armenia. Many of the fathers have been killed, and others were severely injured and are unable to return to the work they did before the war.
The Smiley Pack program provided packages of clothing, toys and sweets for the children, as well as vocational training for their parents. The program targeted those families most in need. Launched in December 2021, the program brought “smiles” to approximately 200 children in total, and provided hair styling and manicure tools and training for 20 parents to enable them to support their families.
“The Smiley Pack program was developed by Mer Hooys’ professional social services team in Armenia,” said Judge Adrienne Krikorian, Mer Hooys’ president. “We wanted to help the families who had to leave everything behind in Artsakh, and the girls in our residential program wanted to be involved.”
“Our girls were so happy to be able to help the children from Artsakh, and they enjoyed designing, filling and delivering the packs,” said Dr. Garo Garibian, Mer Hooys Board Member from Philadelphia. “Not only did the Smiley Packs provide some joy and support to these children and their mothers, but our Mer Hooys girls learned the importance and value of helping those less fortunate by ‘paying it forward’.”
In June, Mer Hooys brought a Children’s Day celebration to the Permanent Headquarter of Artsakh in Yerevan. Fifty Artsakhian children enjoyed a bubble show, pizza, music and sweet treats, along with the Smiley Packs lovingly designed and prepared for each child by the girls of Mer Hooys.
The Smiley Pack program was funded through generous donations raised by the Mer Hooys Board from diaspora supporters and the Helpful Hands Foundation in Armenia. In addition, businesses and individuals in Armenia provided in-kind contributions of toys, treats and other items for the Smiley Packs.