Local groups decorate duffel bags filled with presents for children in the hospital

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COLUMBIA - Local groups decorated duffel bags and filled them with presents to donate to children with chronic illnesses this holiday season.

The coordinator of the event, Susan Brandt, said she got the idea after attending an event in St. Louis.

"'Dazzle Your Duffle' came about when I had attended the Working Spaces St. Louis event where they called theirs 'Rocking your Stocking'. So having been to that and truly feeling the Christmas spirit, I thought it would be a great idea to have this event," Brandt said. 

She teamed up with the local charity Pascale's Pals. 

"Pascale's Pals makes a real difference for children with chronic illnesses. And in the past what Sylvie has done is when someone is admitted to the hospital, she will give them a basket full of goodies. But, what we have done is taken 24 by 36 duffel bags, decorated them, filled them with toys and gifts for children, and now we have also made it a contest opened to the public in a fun event," Brandt said.

One duffle bag decorator, Olivia Taylor, said she loves that her duffle bag is being donated.

"Especially this time of year with it being Christmas, it feels really good. I think that is what our group really wanted to do, was not just create something that's really interesting, but just something that the child would be really amazed by, that he would get so much joy from and take their mind away from what is going on," Taylor said.

Taylor's team turned their bag into a dinosaur costume with a hood and a tail.  

"We kind of came up with the idea that we could make it a costume in a way. That the kid could wear around in the hospital when they are sick and don't feel good. It could just be something they could kind of cling to and just be in their own element of pretend," Taylor said.

Duffle bag decorator Emma Brandt said she spent multiple nights painting her princess themed bag.

"I was thinking Disney princesses or anything Disney because that is where dreams come true and magic happens, and we sat there and I kind of sketched out a design," Emma Brandt said.

Susan Brandt said Dazzle your Duffle will become an annual event.

"We hope that this continues to grow through out the community," Susan Brandt said.