Tuesday, February 4, 2014
Tens of thousands of children get sick each year.
When it's our own child, a family member, or a close friend, we want to take away the pain. We feel helpless and what little we can do to help never feels like enough.
Oftentimes we hear of a child who is sick through conversation, news or social media and our natural instinct is to do something. Regrettably, busy lives prevent us from acting on our well-intentioned thoughts.
It's easy to conclude, then, that children are even less likely to act on an impulse to take action when hearing of another child's illness.
A different kind of seven-year-old
Readers may recall the 2012 story of a young boy who was struck by the news of a sick girl. At the time, seven-year-old David worried that Lilly, the young girl diagnosed with leukemia, might feel frightened and alone at the hospital. He wanted to comfort her through her treatments. While other boys his age were happy playing video games, watching reality television or riding four-wheelers, David was thinking of her.
Maybe a blanket made just for Lilly would help alleviate her fears, his mom suggested. It wasn't long before David's compassion and his mother's creativity resulted in a pink and purple blanket, made and delivered to Lilly's family.
In the days that followed, David's mother, Karen, heard the story of a Horry County baby born with a life threatening genetic disorder. She, too, received a blanket, made just for her.
Thus, began David's Blanket's of Hope.
In the beginning, all materials were bought and paid for by David's parents. The house filled with bright and colorful fleece. Scissors, ribbons, bags and other necessary tools for making and delivering blankets littered the living room.
But news of sick children kept coming. And David's desire to comfort another child had taken on a life of its own.
Now there was a mission. And a goal. An impressive goal, particularly since it was nearing the end of August and the 40th blanket, Spider-Man, had just been completed.
100 blankets by the end of 2012...a real stretch financially for David's family.
Acting on impulses
Wonderful things happen when we act on our impulses.
With the generosity of friends, classmates, and readers of this column who responded generously through donations, David met and even exceeded his goal, delivering 129 blankets to ailing boys and girls across the region by the end of that year.
In 2013, David's Blankets of Hope was on the receiving end of the generosity of hundreds across the country.
Facebook “likes” kept coming, names of children facing illness and hospitalization appeared frequently, and blankets were being made and shipped to David from across the country to help fulfill all the requests. The numbered blankets were then sent to children in over 50 states, and Canada, England and Australia.
Churches were collecting material to donate, groups were getting together for blanket-making parties, and strangers were donating cash.
Funds for purchase of material and supplies were also received through a cookbook project. The cookbook, featuring the photos of many of David's blanket recipients, included recipes from their families and some of David's biggest fans. Recipes from Dreama Denver, the wife of late actor Bob Denver, as well as Dawn Wells, both from Gilligan's Island fame, were included. Hundreds of books were sold and shipped around the world.
Generously, the owners of JerriBob's Mail Service in Surfside Beach, Tim and Lisa Bradford, provided discounted pricing for printing of the cookbooks and frequently they would ship David's blankets without charge. “We don't do this for recognition,” said Tim, “we try to do the right thing.”
The extent of David's mission, though, hasn't kept him from enjoying all the joys and successes of a healthy childhood. Now a mature nine-year-old for all he has accomplished, he recently received his brown belt in karate; has straight A's in school; and continues his love of the WWE.
Exercise for the heart
Poet John Holmes once said, “There is no exercise better for the heart than reaching down and lifting people up.”
Over the course of two years since David's first blanket, many generous people have acted on their impulses to help David make and deliver his blankets. By the end of 2013, the total reached an impressive 449.
Blankets delivered in December alone totaled 93 with the help of Christian Prayer Riders, a group 35 bikers from across several SC counties with a mission of helping sick children and spreading the word of God. One of its founders, Jody “Bigweave” Weaver, a teacher in Clarendon County, and his wife led the group of bikers to McLeod Children's Hospital with 30 of David's Blankets of Hope in tow.
Near the end of 2013, David's Blankets of Hope received a donation specifically for the purpose of applying to the government for non-profit status, a move that will make donations to David's Blankets of Hope tax deductible.
Dr. James Turek opened his practice, Med Plus, in 1995 and founded DermaVogue, a medical skin rejuvenation business, in 1998. Dr. Turek and his wife, Patty, give generously, and often, to local causes. David's mother has been a devoted employee for 12 years in Turek's medical practice.
“David is an incredible kid,” he said, “doing something that has such a far and wide impact,” when explaining why he and his wife donated the money necessary to file the non-profit application.
As a doctor, Turek knows how many sick children doctors see each day.
In 2012, David's Blankets of Hope partnered with Hospice Care of South Carolina and their pediatric hospice, Hands of Hope. David's blankets continue to reach many Hands of Hope patients throughout the state.
“We've had the opportunity to meet many wonderful people and some very, very special children,” says David's mother, Karen. “It can be heartbreaking to see their pain, but it lifts us up to comfort them.”
To make a donation, checks can be mailed to David's Blankets of Hope, P.O. Box 14492, Surfside Beach, SC 29587. Visit them on Facebook or email email@example.com.
Column submitted by Cindy McLaughlin for Grand Strand Homewatch CareGivers. 3577 U.S. 17 Business, Murrells Inlet, SC 29576. Contact them at 843-299-0291 or visit www.homewatchcaregivers.com/myrtle-beach.