Each year, our staff comes together to check off a local family’s holiday wish list. As we began making our holiday plans for this season, we encountered a very special source of inspiration.
Our executive director Kelly L Green holds a personal connection to our mission: her mother, Ileen, was a Help Hope Live client. In 2011, Ileen was stuck in isolation in the hospital on Christmas Day. That’s when “a care package came her way,” explained Kelly. “It gave her so much joy.” Just a small dose of holiday cheer made a big difference to Ileen and her family as they faced the challenges of a holiday season disrupted by a medical crisis.
Kelly was moved by the gesture. In 2014, after her mother passed away, she decided to pay it forward. She assembled care packages of her own in memory of her mom full of carefully-selected items she hoped would lend a little cheer to patients and families displaced from their homes during the holidays.
Inspired by Kelly and Ileen’s experiences, we decided to assemble Bags of Hope of our own for local patients away from home this holiday season. Our entire team got behind the effort, from donating cash to assembling the Bags of Hope by hand to the patient delivery. We kicked everything off with a special staff get-together: dressed in our PJs and with our favorite holiday brunch dishes in hand, we gathered to pack our Bags of Hope at the office, filling each bag with special items and our entire team’s joyful intentions.
We engaged our 2018 Help Award recipient Deb Gordon, MSS LCSW CCTSW, to host our staff at The Perelman Center in Philadelphia so we could distribute our Bags of Hope personally. We went floor to floor meeting with patients facing lifesaving transplants, recovery from transplants, or living with LVADs. We even brought a surprise special guest!
Our holiday project was made possible by generous support from two engaged partners in hope. General Mills and a local Target store (in Abington, PA) donated Bags of Hope stuffers including toys, holiday decorations, and granola bars.
From holding our very own Christmas morning at work to seeing our team come together to donate funds and assemble Bags of Hope, our holiday project was full of joy. The patients we encountered showed us smiles, excitement, and even tears of gratitude. Our special guest, Eagles pro football player Stefen Wisniewski, served as a generous ambassador, spending quality time with each and every patient we encountered.
See the rest of our inspiring Bags of Hope photos on Facebook!