One of the many amazing people I've met in the last year introduced me to a wonderful organization that creates a very simple opportunity for anyone, anywhere to spread hope and joy to children in hospitals across the United States.
Cards for Hospitalized Kids began when a scared little girl recovering from surgery received a card from a stranger. Jen Rubino, then 11 years old, felt so much warmth, compassion, and comfort upon receipt of this card. She knows the loneliness of spending a lot of time in the hospital, because she has a disorder that has required her to undergo 23 surgeries throughout her childhood. After receiving this thoughtful card, she launched her own not-for-profit organization which distributes cards with words of encouragement and love to thousands of children each year. The hope is that they feel supported and a little less lonely during their stays.
My boys and I spent quite a bit of time looking through the Cards for Hospitalized Kids website, reading about hospitalized children throughout the country who are suffering or facing challenges many of our children (and their parents) cannot even imagine, and discussing the touching stories about the comfort, hope, and uplifting effect cards have had on them. It opened up a nice discussion about gratitude and reaching out to comfort those who need it most. We decided to make our own cards to donate to CFHK. Here is how it works:
Step 1. Gather your supplies.
CFHK asks that we not use excessive amounts of materials that could rub or fall off, particularly glitter. They can't distribute these materials to children in the hospital, and they certainly wouldn't want your cards to go to waste!
My boys and I decided to do "Heart in Hand" cards. To make these, fold cardstock or construction paper in half and trace your child's hand so that their index finger and thumb overlap the folded side of the page slightly. Cut out the hand, but don't completely cut across the thumb and index finger. When you open the cards, it forms two hands connect by the index fingers and thumbs that form a heart in the center. Cute!
The boys also wanted to make something colorful to represent kindness and happiness. Therefore, my five-year-old cut out stems, circles of various sizes and colors, and leaves, and glued them together to form simple flowers.
Step 2. Address the cards.
Since we don't know the children's names ahead of time, CFHK tells us to use a general greeting. My kids and I decided on: "To: A Very Special Person"
Step 3. Write your message.
- The hospitals request that we DO NOT use any illness-related language/comments such as "Get well soon" or "Feel better." Some children may be facing uncertain or terminal conditions, so it is best to not draw attention to the illness.
- Also, they ask that we do not write any religious comments such as "God Bless" or "I'm praying for you". Hospitals treat patients of all religions as well as patients that do not practice religion.
- Instead, use comments that focus on the children as a whole rather than their illnesses.
- My kids decided to use the following:
- High Fives and Hugs Coming Your Way!
- You are a star!
- You're amazing!
- You are awesome!
- Here are examples from the CFHK website:
- Stay strong
- You are awesome
- Never forget how amazing YOU are
- You rock
- I hope you have a great day today
- You shine brighter than the sun
- You inspire me
- I believe in YOU
Step 4. Sign your cards.
- Use your first name, state, and/or organization.
- Do NOT include any personally identifying information such as phone numbers, addresses, email addresses, etc. in your card. Hospitals will not distribute them.
- We chose to sign ours with a little signature from Little Hands Can and our first names. Here's how they turned out:
Step 5. Mail your cards to:
Cards for Hospitalized Kids
7290 W. Devon Ave.
Chicago, IL 60631
This was such a simple, yet powerful act of service for my kids. I sure hope it brightens the days of children in hospitals across the country!
Learn more at Cards for Hospitalized Kids.