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Giving to Charities – Not Just for the Holiday Season

Giving to charities make us all feel good.  We are helping others in need and we either believe strongly in the cause or have been asked to donate by someone we know that is connected to the charity.  Giving to charities can get especially tricky around the holidays because every time you turn around someone is asking for a donation and unfortunately you can’t say yes to everyone. The most important thing is that you choose what charity you want to spend your time or money giving to!

A Rough Trip Down Memory Lane

About five years ago my then 2-year-old son was chronically sick with asthma and pneumonia. He was hospitalized for five days in the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) just two days after Thanksgiving.  The last day my son was in the hospital I was on the elevator going to the cafeteria to get breakfast. I was feeling very scared and confused about what was going on with my son. I was worried about how we were going to get through it.  We had just been told by his doctors that once he was released from the hospital he needed to stay home and not be exposed to any germs for at least a month.

As this was going through my mind the elevator door opened on the cancer floor. A mom walked onto the elevator.  The look on her face was the look most parents have at CHOP.  They are all worried about the wellbeing of their child.  However, in this moment my own worries felt small.  I knew my child was coming home with me and my husband.  I knew he would be ok and his future was bright and full of life regardless of the five other hospitalizations over the next year.  But, what I couldn’t get over was thinking that woman might not know her child’s future and her child may never be able to come home with her.  The look on her face was one of tired sleepless nights.  A look of pure hopelessness and desperation.  A look that carried the weight of the world.  I will never forget that look on her face.

The Sign

A few days after our son was released I was running some errands and saw a car magnet on the back of a car.  The magnet was a picture of a ladybug and read Kisses for Kyle.  I went straight to google as soon as I got home. What I found was an amazing local charity that my husband and children have been a part of ever since.  Sharon Snyder is a mother who found out her son had Leukemia just three weeks’ shy of his second birthday.  Kyle lost his life to cancer after an eight-month battle  Three years after losing her son she started the Kisses for Kyle foundation in his memory to assist families in the Delaware Valley region that are battling childhood cancer.

When I first discovered the charity it was the first week in December and Sharon was running her fundraiser. It essentially a Secret Santa.  She has the children who are sick list items that they would love to have for Christmas.  The amazing part is their siblings who are also suffering and coping with their brother or sister’s illness get to list items they would like to have.

Giving and Taking Part

We knew that Christmas was going to be a little tight that year. I had to take a leave from work in order to stay home with our son.  But my leave was temporary.  My son was going to be ok.  His illness was manageable and would allow him to continue to grow and reach all the wonderful milestones that we would be proud to see.  Reading Sharon’s story and seeing all the children and families in our local area that this would benefit was enough for my husband and me to donate and adopt as many children and families as we can each Christmas. I am proud to say that my husband and I have not purchased a Christmas present for one another since we have discovered this charity.

I think we adopted six kids on our first Christmas. We bought the two or three items that they were asking for on their list.  Each year around late October I start looking for the list. I start purchasing items for the children that are listed.  It is completely anonymous which makes giving that much more special.  A few years ago we gave first or second row seats to Frozen on Ice. W received a wonderful picture of the little girl that was the recipient of that gift.  The smile on her and her mother’s face was the best gift we could have ever received.

Spreading the Word

We try and spread the word each year to recruit friends and family to do the same.  Most people will give a gift card or something to help the charity.  But we always get asked if we miss receiving gifts from each other and the answer is NO!  I always think back to that woman from the cancer floor. I think about her walking onto the elevator with me and wonder if that was her last Christmas with her child.  The harsh reality is that for many of the kids on the list, it is their last Christmas. If my husband and I can give up a present or two to make the most magical day just a little more special for a child and their family, then we are fine with not ever exchanging presents.

I really encourage you to check out this wonderful charity Kisses for Kyle.  They are accepting donations throughout the year to help lessen the burden on parents and their children.  It is a local charity to the Philadelphia Area and I welcome you to donate. However, if you are looking for something closer to home I urge you to seek out something similar in your area!

Yes, it is Christmas Day, but we have an entire year to give of ourselves to those in need! Wishing you Happy Holidays to you and yours!

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