Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Caitlin's Smiles

My daughter Marian is having a bone marrow transplant after Easter, the details of which I can rattle off blithely, but are also tearing little holes in my heart. For both of us (and to drive everyone else in the house, i.e., Nathan, crazy) to have something positive to focus on during our preparation (though she does take her scientific studies extremely seriously for a 6-year-old), we've decided to raise money to buy new craft supplies for her hospital and housebound distractions. A BMT also involves a non-existent to severely crippled immune system, so germs are extra scary and the hospital recommends only using brand-new craft supplies, many of which they will provide, but since I'm kind of a materials snob...

Marian's *s u p e r s t a r* project emerges!

We have grand selling-Marian-art plans, which I'll start to share more of when our stock of darling things is high enough. We have grand supporting Marian plans (a re-issuance of the superstar tee at cost, addresses where you can mail jokes and notes once we're inpatient, a hospital room decorating scheme...). We also have grand desires-to-help plans. The money will be Marian's to spend on new craft supplies to help make the whole thing more bearable. The girls and I thought it would be lovely to use extra Marian-raised funds to make craft kits for other ill kids, too. As I started the internal brainstorming session of where-who-what, I remembered coming across a local organization that donated craft supplies to hospitals, and thought it would save me a lot of trying to network (which, to a phone-phobic, is a very grand plan) to just try to work with them. My google search (Harrisburg, craft, kids, hospital) was happily a quick success, my e-mails answered quickly, and tonight the girls and I drove to participate in a craft-kit assembly night so I could scope out the possibilities for future involvement. I was very impressed, Audrey and Marian inspired, and connections made without a single phone call. God bless the internet.

The organization is called Caitlin's Smiles. Since they're local, I assumed it was a kind of small operation, but learned tonight that they send out 4-5,000 bags every month. !!! Tonight, we decorated delivery bags (each gets a coloring book, crayons, pen, journal, handmade card, and a few craft kits), made get-well cards, and assembled little craft kits (I do love wee ziplocs).
The girls loved it mostly because of the glitter glue. I loved it because ordinary people wanting to do good overwhelms me with gloriousness every single time I see it. A very hopeful thing, that.

The top photo is Marian, with one of the bags she worked on. (My favorite of her cards read: "I wish you have hope in your body".)

My Audrey, an awesome big sister and miracle donor, concentrating.
A partial group shot. The assembly night, the first of a now-regular series, was held at the district office for Wendy's restaurants. One of the managers there was approached by Caitlin's Smiles for left over toy donations, and is now on the board. I liked her immediately because she's a Valerie, too, and kept on doing so because she is one of the good guys. Most of this evening's crew were restaurant managers and workers at Wendy's. More of the good guys. A cool thing about being hooked to the Wendy's network, too, is that Valerie can send supplies to the Wendy's near me via her traveling district managers, so I don't have to drive the 45 minutes to Harrisburg. Making cards or assembling craft kits would be a great church service activity, and we're planning on at least a couple of work parties at our home in the next couple of months, too. So slick.


Karen said...

That is such a wonderful idea---your daughters have very big hearts and even more courage. :) Good luck with everything and I hope you all continue to find inspiration and encouragement in the next few months!

vfg said...

thank you!

vandyman said...

Is this exportable to other states like Tennessee? It would make a great service project for our ward as well.

vfg said...

I'm sure you could work something out. My contact (on the board) was very "oh, yeah, that would be great" about everything I asked: can Marian's class make cards to send? can I make my own craft kits? can I assemble with your supplies? I'll ask for you, but I'm sure that she would be amenable, especially if y'all were willing to pay postage.

Anne-Marie said...

I've got some extra melt and pour soap at Bramble Berry that I'd love to toss your way for this project if it would be helpful.

Just email me at info (at) brambleberry (dot) com if you'd like some extra soap as a donation.