‘Tis the Season for Giving

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It’s that time of year in thinking of others and giving back. With so many options of places to donate food, clothing and toys it can be a little overwhelming. I am here to speak up about child life and creative art programs in hospitals that are often overlooked but in need of so much. Here is a small breakdown of how you can impact a child and family who have been hospitalized during the holiday season and throughout the year.

Who to contact:

Reaching out to your local hospital and finding out if they have a child life program is the first step. If the hospital doesn’t have one than you can contact larger programs such as Starlight, Project Sunshine, or Child Life Wish list.org that work closely with child life programs.

Who can donate:

There is an endless amount of people who are willing to help. Think about creating a toy drive with family members, friends and neighbors. Your local community, restaurants, pediatric offices, schools and churches. Group organizations for adults and children such as sport teams, cub scouts and mommy and me programs.

What kind of items are needed:

Most child life programs are in need of toys, electronics and gift cards. Due to infection control, toys need to be new. Some toys will be given as gifts during the holidays and other items will be used for activities for children in the playroom at bedside or during medical procedures. Here is a list of what is typically needed:

  • Cause and Effect Toys
  • Mobiles, Crib Toys
  • Dramatic Play (dress up, kitchen toys, doctor kits)
  • Puzzles
  • Board Games
  • Music CDs (children’s, school-aged and adolescents)
  • DVDs and Video games (rated age appropriately)
  • Cars, Trucks, Trains
  • Dolls (clothes, strollers, baby items)
  • Action Figures and Animal Figurines
  • Musical Instruments
  • Books-different languages are encouraged (look and find, pop-up)
  • Blocks
  • Art Supplies (can be individualized art kits)
  • Scrapbook Materials
  • Wagons, Small Ride on Toys and Push Carts
  • Tablets, Hand Held Games and Headphones
  • Digital Cameras, CD Players and I-Pods,
  • Gift Cards (ToysRus, Target, BestBuy, I-Tunes)

There isn’t a lot of funding for child life programs; they are typically run by grants and donations. Reaching out and providing some of these much-needed items will surely help them in a tremendous way.

Happy Holidays!

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Blessing Bracelet

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When a loved one dies grief can take over our body and mind with intense pain and sense of loneliness. The loss can bring a ripple effect of struggles, financial stress, single parenting, isolation, along with the overload of emotions of anger, resentment, sadness, guilt and shock.

With the right support from bereavement counseling, children, adolescents and families can find a way to express their emotions, learn strategies to cope and find ways to honor their loved one.

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I have been a volunteer with Center for HOPE for the past 4 years and can’t express how amazing this bereavement program is. The facilitators are compassionate about helping the children and their families grieve and find hope.

The Center is funded through grants and private donations, which makes it very difficult to stay afloat. They need a lot of support to continue their services to the community.

This holiday season they have partnered up with Blessing Bracelets to raise money.

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These are beautiful bracelets and make perfect gifts for friends, family, coworkers and teachers. I purchased two myself and love them.

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Each bracelet comes with a tag with this message:

Whenever you wear it acknowledge one blessing in your life for each pearl on the bracelet.   Each time you are drawn to the bracelet, silently find four people or things you can be grateful for.  Be grateful for:  Your children, a flower, your dog, a perfect cup of coffee, a roof over your head – just find something.  The more you wear the bracelet and the more blessings you find, the more you will be blessed.  In one year, if followed, you will be aware of a profound change in your life.

They are made of sterling silver and gemstones.

They are $20.00 and all proceeds go to the Center for HOPE.

If you are interested in purchasing one or would like to donate to the Center, please contact Susan Thomas or myself, Shani Thornton.

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Christmas in July

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We received this Christmas Jar, along with the book, during the holidays with the intention to fill it with leftover change and then donate it to a family or organization in need.

Well, like every year, this past December was incredibly hectic and my goal to donate the money never happened. So we just continued to fill the jar.

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Last week, I brought my kids to the New York Aquarium in Coney Island, Brooklyn. We were all excited to see the new renovations after the terrible destruction from Superstorm Sandy in October, 2012. Unfortunately they are still in the process of rebuilding many of the exhibits, so it took us just 45 minutes to go through the entire aquarium, including the sea lion show.

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On the drive home we talked about Superstorm Sandy and how it destroyed many buildings and homes, including the aquarium. My 5 year-old son mentioned his memories of it and then began to express his feelings of concern for the sea life. “What happened to them? Did they die? Did they get a new home?”.

After answering his questions we talked about ways to help the aquarium. “The Christmas jar!” Yes, this is an excellent idea.

The following week we took a trip to the bank to exchange all the coins into bills. The kids were very excited about this as they got to participate in the process. Gavin made a guess of $78.00 and Blake said $2.00. Hmm, I wonder who was closer?

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The grand total was $110.78 and we made the formal donation to their website.

This was a great gift that we received for Christmas. I would strongly encourage families to create the jars for gifts and make one for their home as well. Get your kids involved and show them how important it is to give back.

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