We have this change jar in our kitchen. Everyone contributes to it and for the past year we kept telling the kids that we’d empty it after Christmas and do something fun with it. Well, a few weeks ago, my daughter asked me if we could take all of the change in the jar and buy it for sick children. Now my daughter, I would expect something awesome like this from her because she’s a very thoughtful person. Our son, he’s another story! Color me completely surprised when we told him our plan and he ran up to his room and started gathering toys to give to the kids. I swear to God I almost started sobbing right in the middle of the kitchen. I expected a reaction more like “ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME WITH THIS SHIT?!”
I explained to him that he could keep his toys because we would just buy new ones while I hugged and squeezed him for not being an asshole for once.
So, I put my PR rep, Donna, to work and asked her to contact local hospitals for me. My goal was pediatric cancer wards. Surprisingly, no one was getting back to her! I believe her exact text to me was “Seriously? We’re giving away free presents here!!!”
Finally, about a week ago, she got a response. It was from University Hospital of Cleveland’s Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital. My heart skipped a beat. University Hospital is where my mom spent so much of her time when she had Leukemia. I can’t even tell you how many times I made that hour drive down to Cleveland to be with her. I told Donna to immediately get their information: Number of children, ages, what day we could drop off the presents, etc. etc.
The social worker, Janna, was so sweet and excited about the whole thing. She told us that everyone buys for the little kids. Everyone showers the babies and the toddlers with gifts every year, but people rarely remember the older ones. They not only treat young children at UH, but they also treat some adults who have a better response to pediatric cancer treatments.
DONE! SOLD! Janna got back to us and said they had around 30 patients ranging in ages from 14 – 31, and that four of them would be staying in the hospital through the holidays. She of course told us she didn’t want to take advantage of us and never expected us to bring gifts for everyone. She even said she would whittle her list down so it didn’t include so many. Nope, that’s not going to work for me! There will be no whittling!
With the help of Donna and the ever amazing Tiffany King and their wonderful donations, hubs and I went on a shopping spree.
Then I realized I needed to wrap everything. Normally, I love wrapping. But that’s because I start Christmas shopping in like July and I wrap as I buy, one gift at a time. Let me tell you, I realized I am way too old to sit on the floor wrapping a million presents at once. I was walking hunched over for the rest of the day.
Of course walking into the hospital provided the usual for the Sivec family: the kids shoved each other into the revolving door, my son called my daughter a ‘stupid face’ at the top of his lungs as we got into the lobby and she retaliated by shoving him into a Christmas tree by the registration desk and I’m yelling at them through clenched teeth saying “WE ARE IN A HOSPITAL WITH SICK PEOPLE AND YOU TWO ARE ACTING LIKE IDIOTS! CUT IT OUT BEFORE I DROP YOU OFF ON THE EAST SIDE OF CLEVELAND AND LET YOU WALK HOME.”
Son: I don’t walk, I run and I will beat you home, fool!
Daughter: Can we still leave him in Cleveland even if we stop acting like idiots?
With another threat to lock them in the trunk, Janna came downstairs with a few helpers and loaded up their carts with all of the presents. I let daughter take the picture which of course ticked my son off. The whole time we were posting he kept yelling “I WANT TO PHOTOBOMB THE PICTURE! COME ON, LET ME PHOTOBOMB JUST ONE!”
Luckily, the one picture where he managed to stick his face in didn’t turn out. Or maybe that’s unlucky? It was probably a great picture. We celebrated by going to the mall and waiting in line for an hour and a half to see santa. That was fun – said no one ever. But we did manage to get this beautiful photo for our Christmas card.
This year has been beyond amazing for me. I never thought in a million years I would be able to do something like this. I am blessed beyond belief and I thank God every day for each and every one of you for coming into my life and making it possible for me to give back to those who need it. I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas and a Happy New Year! If anyone is interested in contacting University Hospital of Cleveland’s Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital/Pediatric Hematology/Oncology to see how you can help, you can contact Janna Shelby at (216)844-7428 or Janna.Shelby@UHhospitals.org