Good Neighbors

‘Happy Totes’ Bring Smiles To Children In Need

A family-run non-profit is bringing joy to kids in shelters – one tote at a time.


For Nina Thompson, helping others is a family affair.

You can often find her and her three daughters at their home in Odenton, MD filling tote bags with soft blankets, cuddly stuffed animals and other small trinkets meant to comfort children in crisis.

Read about another do-gooder who's delivering smiles to kids in need: Sixth Grader Makes Smile Bags To Help Kids In Her Community

Thompson, who's also a photographer, started the non-profit 'Happy Totes' in 2018 to bring smiles to children who are in shelters and help centers due to being homeless, abused or neglected.

Thompson (R) drops off totes at the Casey Cares Foundation in Maryland. Happy Totes, Inc./Facebook

She also wanted a way to teach her family the importance of giving back, so they started collecting donations and now they make regular deliveries to a number of organizations in Maryland and beyond.

Thompson recently dropped a few dozen totes off at My Sister's Place, a domestic violence shelter in Washington D.C.

"We've donated to tons of shelters, individuals, families, anybody who might need them," Thompson told WCVB-TV.

Happy Totes has delivered hundreds of bags to kids in need. Happy Totes, Inc./Facebook

Each tote includes a soft blanket and a plush toy – items meant for cuddling. The family also includes a personal note with each bag that reads, "Here's a Happy Tote for you. We hope it makes you smile. So, wrap up with your brand new pal and snuggle for a while."

Each tote includes a stuffed animal, soft blanket and a personal note. Happy Totes, Inc./Facebook

While Thompson knows she's not solving world poverty with her totes, she knows the items inside might mean the world to children who don't have anything.

Here's a story about another person making a difference, this time for kids battling cancer: He turned his Challenge Into Smiles For Other Kids

Since starting Happy Totes, the Thompson family has delivered totes to hundreds of kids in need, and they don't plan on stopping anytime soon.

Thompson's daughters play a big part in preparing the totes for delivery. Happy Totes, Inc./Facebook

"I'm always looking for new places to give them to, and we get a lot of great donations, and I hope I can just continue to do that," she said.

What a sweet and simple way to help others in need. Kudos to Thompson for starting Happy Totes and teaching her family the importance of giving back!

How can you start something good?

Inspired by the Thompson family's incredible act of kindness?


You can purchase items for Happy Totes or sponsor a bag for $10. Just email happytotes3@gmail.com (PayPal and Venmo accepted).


Also, if you're in the Maryland/D.C. area and know of an organization or family that could use Happy Totes, reach out to Thompson and let her know!


Let's #StartSomethingGood together.

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