Submitted by Stephanie Keep
My eldest daughter, Emma, has a birthday is right before Christmas, and my middle daughter has one right after. The result is a period of such glut that every year when I sneak away several presents to give to Toys for Tots, the girls fail to notice. At church in November, my friend Elise Randazzo told me that her daughters, Arden and Annaliese, had collected presents to donate to Boston Children’s Hospital at their last birthday parties. It was such a wonderful idea, and I knew right away it was something I wanted to suggest to Emma. To my delight, she agreed without hesitation. My youngest daughter had just had successful surgery at Boston Children’s, so Emma was happy to do “something nice” for the place that helped her baby sister.
I wrote to the parents of all of Emma’s party guests and sent a link to the webpage with suggested gift ideas. Every girl came with something to share. We set all the donations aside and waited to bring them to the hospital. As it happens, it wasn’t just Emma and the Randazzo girls who had collected items—Stacy Chandler, Becky Titlow, and Annemarie Silver each had daughters who had collected donations at their parties, too. The five of us arranged to go together to Boston Children’s on December 30.
It was a freezing, but delightful day. In all, we carried fifteen full bags of crafts and toys into the Hale Center for Families. Each of the girls had either had a friend or sibling that had spent time in the hospital, so it was particularly rewarding to deliver the gifts. Two Child Life specialists—the amazing men and women who try to “make the hospital less scary and maybe even a little fun”—answered questions and told us how grateful they were for our girls’ generosity. In addition to the toys and crafts, Annemarie brought the $1250 she had collected from generous friends and neighbors for the Boston Children’s Hospital holiday parking program. The money will be matched by the garage, resulting in 250 parking passes.
I know that in the grand scheme of things, what we did was a pretty small act. But in the scheme of a five, seven, eight, or nine-year-old? It was pretty darn big. I am so proud of the girls and I am hopeful that others in a position to do so will consider doing something similar—collect presents at a birthday party, or select a single present or two to set aside. There are so many worthy local charities and nonprofits, including the Bedford food pantry, MSPCA, Cradle to Crayons, and the International Institute of New England that helps refugees settle into towns around MA, all of which expect to see a decrease in donations in 2018 due to the new tax law. If you’re interested in making a donation to Boston Children’s Hospital, the greatest needs tend to be for ages 0–2 and teens. Snuggly lovey blankets, light-up toys, and musical instruments for young babies are always popular. For teenagers, things like nail polish, earbuds, posters, and adult coloring books were suggested. All that said, the staff were insistent that any donations are more than appreciated!
I know they are hackneyed and cliché, but in the last year I find myself thinking these thoughts all the time: As individuals, we cannot individually fix everything in this world. Some things are too big, some things are out of our control entirely. But we can make a difference to individuals, and that can make all the difference in their worlds.