Thanks Cincinnati Bengals and Pittsburgh Steelers fans who attended last Sunday’s game at Paul Brown Stadium!! I just heard
the Toys for Tots Collection hit an ALL TIME HIGH with 6,635 new toys and $53,400 in cash donations. Think about all of the children who the Marines will be able to help because of your generosity. (And thank you to the Bengals, Steelers, Bonnie White and everyone else involved in organizing it)
The smiles on these faces speaks volumes for what is means to the children who are recipients of the 2015 Cinci Holiday Bike Drive, a project of Cincinnati nonprofit, Queen City Bike. This year, with generosity from the community, the organization was able to give bikes to 64 local kids. All children also received a new helmet and some bike safety education.
Queen City Bikes takes donations throughout the year and volunteer mechanics refurbish them. Smaller pedal brake bicycles are given to children referred by social service agencies and assistance centers while larger bicycles are refurbished and sold at reasonable prices, with proceeds going toward helmets, bike parts and bike education.
There are several ways. The Cinci Holiday Bike Drive is looking for a home to store its bicycles and teach bicycle repair to adults and teens, preferably on the west side of Cincinnati. It also is continuing to seek bike donations. Additionally, a $35 donation purchases one child’s helmet and the parts needed to refurbish one bike. To learn more and/or to donate, please reach out to them at firstname.lastname@example.org
The other day I received an email from a friend, Christy Berning, that was sent to a large number of us. It told the story of a little boy and his family in an unfamiliar city living temporarily in our Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center as they battle health issues no little boy should have to face. They are on the waiting list for the Ronald McDonald House, which is about 20 days+.
Braylon – like Christy’s neice – has Dandy Walker Syndrome, a congenital brain malformation involving the cerebellum (an area at the back of the brain that controls movement) and the fluid filled spaces around it that causes seizures, physical and cognitive delays and many scary surgeries and hospital visits like the one he is experiencing now.
Doctors suspect that he may have a defect in his T-cells and are running some tests to determine whether he would be a candidate for a bone marrow transplant. If this is the case, it is a very long six-month process where they would completely wipe out his immune system starting with chemotherapy and rebuild it from scratch.
He would need to wait, however, until they could get his infection under control, because he is currently not stable enough to undergo the treatments. Additionally, Braylon has some major GI issues, and is currently connected to a central line for feeding. Prayers that they can get his feeding better to remove the line, since these lines carry with them a very high risk of infection.
I have been to our Children’s Hospital so many times. It is an incredible place where hallways are lined with bright colors and on any given day you may see therapy dogs or clowns or other volunteers roaming to take the seriousness away even for just a few moments.
Families like Braylon’s come from around the globe for the opportunity to seek medical treatment from the very best. Still, all in all, it can be a lonely journey with long hours of waiting, worrying, wondering and hoping.
So people like Christy who take it upon themselves to reach out and organize efforts to build a community around a family living at the bedside of their child are so incredibly meaningful. Christy asked us to write a card, contribute to a welcome basket or send another token gift, cook a meal, or just keep the family in our thoughts and prayers.
I’ll be sending along a card and Mylar balloons.
Christy and I had lunch this week, and we talked about how acts of kindness have such broad spread impact not only on the receiver but also on the giver. It is such a powerful gift we can give others and ourselves. And it has a way of spreading. I am in awe of Christy’s beautiful heart, and am inspired to give kindness to others.
It is during the holiday seasons when we are reminded the most of how kindness, compassion and love can boost spirits and change lives. While we are celebrating with our families, it is important to remember there are adults, parents, families and children who are struggling to have their basic needs met. We need to keep them in our hearts but we also need to reach out and give as we can to help eachother – a few coins in the kettles, food for meals, gifts for wishlists, your donated time through a social service agency or simply helping a neighbor or friend, even a simple smile can make all the difference.
A teacher, at Oyler School in Cincinnati’s Lower Price Hill Danielle Codling-Mangano wrote for a parenting group about her observations of the impact of kindness on students there. (I am reprinting it with her permission.) Please take a few moments to read her note. And, if you feel moved to make a donation, please contact the school at (513) 363-4100.
“Today was amazing. The staff and an army of moms arrived and worked to get the room organized. We sorted bags and boxes of clothes. We tried to cozy the boiler room with the posters kids made and put a rug down so they could sit on something comfy while waiting to shop. We also put out some fresh fruit for kids…
Let’s start there. We had a seven year old sing a song about getting a banana! Did anyone eat their bananas or cuties? No they packed them… probably for hungrier times but they were very happy to get fruit! Access to fresh produce is very limited Lower Price Hill it is classified as a food dessert.
The book that a 6th grade girl had donated from CMH was given to a fantastic young lady!!! Her face lit up like a Christmas tree when I told her a 6th grader from another school wanted a nice student at Oyler to have it. She told me she would pass it to friend when she is done. She was reading it walking up the stairs!
We had some staff at Oyler come to shop for kids who were too embarrassed to come down themselves.
The staff was looking for a double stroller for an 18 year student who just had her second baby. Someone called me to say, for that student’s birthday her mom gave her $150 to spend on kids at Oyler! This mother of two will be picking up a double stroller at Once Upon a Child tomorrow, which also means the young lady will be able to bring her kids to daycare at school and finish her studies and graduate. Today she couldn’t bring her one year old because she only has a single stroller.
I helped a 10 year old boy who the staff identified as “having nothing” get some clothes. In this district that label means a lot. He was wearing a short sleeve shirt and pants that didn’t fit. Every time he tried something on that fit, his face went into a smile that just melted me. He was thrilled to have a coat, socks, pants that fit and a sweet down vest that one of you donated. He asked me after filling up his bag if he could keep it all. I said yes and shamelessly asked if he wanted a hug… He did… SO AWESOME…
We had a preschool class come through that couldn’t be cuter… some were wearing shoes about two sizes too small.. one boy had a huge hole in his jeans and mud caked on them..Though these little ones had little material things they had a lot of smiles!! They were so happy to get new clothes, etc…
I saw friends helping kids frustrated when they couldn’t find the sizes kids needed…However we had a list and guess what tomorrow they will receive PJ’s and things that they needed! A friend who was there for the first time today… left and began to shop around she dropped off bags full of clothes at my house… more people offered support via text….! Oyler’s community bucket is overflowing with love and compassion from you!!!!
We had a staff member come close to tears expressing her complete awe for all that you are doing for this community!!”
The Rotary Club of Cincinnati annual Believe 2 Achieve event once again sold out with 400 members and guests raising money for three local nonprofit organizations. The event was emceed by Dave Lapham, former Cincinnati Bengals player and radio analyst with Cincinnati Reds bat boy Teddy Kremer serving as assistant. The $101,000 raised was distributed to Stepping Stones for Camp Allyn, The Down Syndrome Association of Greater Cincinnati, and The Autism Society of Greater Cincinnati.
To learn more about the Rotary Club of Cincinnati, please visit their website, www.cincinnatirotary.org.