Giving More than Hugs

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I recently connected with Joy from Give Hugs and was immediately drawn to what she was doing for pediatric patients. Her photos would tell a brief story of how she was making a positive impact on the children’s lives. It was incredibly touching and inspiring.

Joy is a sixteen year-old, young lady from Kansas who has had her fair share of hospitalizations in the past 20 months. She has been suffering from chronic, pain stricken migraines that have changed her daily function of life. During her hospitalizations for numerous IV treatments, injections to her head and medical procedures to alleviate her pain; she has been able to meet with peers and younger children going through similar challenging medical experiences. The empathy was there and she gathered their resilient strength to drive her into creating Give Hugs.

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She creates care packages with her famous fleece tie blankets, toys, hats and coloring books to help a child cope during their hospital stay. She does it all by herself and then delivers them to the kids at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas. She also mails the care packages to children in further areas.

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At such a young age, Joy has made a powerful imprint on children, families and the healthcare team. She has incredible strength to fight through her own debilitating pain and focus her energy in a positive way by giving back to others. She is simply amazing!

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If you have been inspired by Joy and would like to contribute to her care packages, you can send a monetary donation or comfort items such as hats, headbands, scarves, I-Tunes gift cards, fleece and bedside activities. Contact her at joygivehugs@gmail.com or at Give Hugs.

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Valuable Lesson

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When Christmas comes around, I kind of dread it. My son’s birthday is just a week earlier and the magnitude of toys and gifts that he typically receives is just crazy. I know that he won’t use all the toys and a lot of them are duplicates of what he already has or something very similar. The house is already overflowing with Legos, cars, dress up clothes, blocks and every action figure made.

I am sure that many people can relate to the unnecessary need of so many toys. More than half the time they don’t even play with it or have the room to play. Kids become so spoiled with materialistic things that they can lose their appreciation for what they have.

A friend of mine reached out and wanted to connect with a child life program to donate her son’s toys. He was turning one a week after Christmas and she decided that this would be a great tradition to start with him. Every year he will get to choose a few gifts that he receives and then donate the rest to a children’s hospital. She is teaching her son a valuable lesson that hopefully others will catch on to as well.

So we gathered the extra toys and reached out to Steven and Alexandra Cohen Children’s Medical Center of New York  to arrange for our drop off. Erin O’Brien is a certified child life specialist there and helps run a phenomenal child life program. She was eager to receive the donation and add it to the playrooms on the different units.

Child life programs are always in need of toys. They will be used in playrooms, waiting areas, at bedside, for kids on isolation and also given to children who celebrate their birthdays or holiday in the hospital, yes this happens a lot!

So how can you bring this tradition to your family?

-Instead of exchanging gifts to one another, you use that money to shop for kids in the hospital or other community programs.

– Letting your child pick what to keep and what to donate. This will allow them to be an active participant, give them control in choice making and build up their self-confidence in feeling proud of what they are doing for others.

-Maybe some family members give gift cards and let your child shop with them for the kids.

I will be incorporating this with both my kid’s birthdays and Christmas celebrations. Will you do the same?

Tis the season for giving