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Jewish Journal

Give Your Kid a Hug—a Paper One

by Leora Alhadeff

May 6, 2004 | 8:00 pm

Open your lunch box. Peek inside. Surprise! Mom scribbled you a note and drew you a little picture showing you she cares.

As a little girl, Michelle Krouss used to open her brown paper bag to find a little note with a smiley face from her mother, brightening up her day. Now the Jewish mother of two, Krouss created Paper-Hugs, a napkin decorating kit complete with soy crayons and fun stickers for parents who want to start the tradition with their kids.

"Parents work really hard today," Krouss said. "This is a nice way for parents to connect in the middle of the day, giving their child a hug when they are not with them."

When her son was in preschool and had a hard time separating from his mommy, Krouss remembers buying generic stickers and decorating napkins for her son to take to school. The comforting notes eased the separation, and that's when she decided to develop Paper-Hugs for other parents.

Krouss created the concept and recruited her partner, Susan Conwiser, to handle the financials.

Working with a graphic designer, they fashioned creative stickers with messages and notes like, "We're having your favorite tonight" and "You mean the world to me." The sticker booklet also has words of encouragement and reminders like, "Good luck on your test" and "Return library book."

The kit includes 40 bordered napkins, three crayons and 80 colorful stickers to personalize and send along with your kids a few times a week for up to three months.

With the school kit taking off, Krouss and Conwiser are in the process of developing decorating kits for grandparents and a camp kit for summers.

Krouss' son, now 9, still gets a Paper-Hug in his lunch box a few times a week. "Don't do it everyday," warned his mother, "that way, they are not expecting it."

Not embarrassed by his mother's love, her son will read them and tuck them back into his bag and bring it home to mom. "He'll throw away everything but that napkin," Krouss said, "and that means a lot."

With Mother's Day coming up, a Paper-Hug kit makes a great gift for mom from the younger kids in the family. "It's different. It's not a piece of jewelry; it's something you are giving back to your child," Krouss said.

Paper-Hugs. $12.95. For purchase and/or more information, go to www.paper-hugs.com

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