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The birthday gift that keeps on giving.

June 14, 2013

I have a confession to make- giving money away is not something I’m good at. It certainly wasn’t something I was good at when I was a child! Oh how I anticipated that birthday card from Grandma – not because I loved Hallmark sentiments but mostly because I had already been dreaming about what I wanted to spend that check on!

This week we were honored to meet a young lady who has far different dreams about her anticipated birthday gifts than I ever did at her age. Her name is Ariana and she recently celebrated her 9th birthday here at Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children! She was not a patient. She was not visiting a patient. There was no cake and no long table adorned with presents for her. Instead, she brought a present to us!

For over a year now Ariana has had a desire to give hope to kids with cancer. She told us her goal was to help as many kids as she could because she wants the sick kids to be happy again. She has spent this last year making bracelets and bookmarks to sell to friends and family and slowly tucking away her money in preparation to give a gift to the kids at the hospital. Ariana’s pastor initiated a call to the Orlando Health Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children and Orlando Health Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women & Babies on behalf of Ariana and her family, after Ariana's dad shared with him how she had been saving and planning to make her dream come true. Up until that point, Ariana had saved about $30, but by the time her birthday rolled around that amount had increased to $130.00! Ariana’s Dad thought her actual birthday would be a great day to make a presentation to the hospital.

After giving it some thought, Ariana decided to gift her money to our Family Pantry:  a donation-based resource closet that provides various items to our young patients and their families in need. The pantry stocks items like clothing, amenities and even non-perishable food items. She learned that it would be a great way to impact lots of sick kids and help their families out at the same time. With this donation we can provide something as small as a toothbrush, shampoo, or soap to a parent staying with their child or we could purchase food items that will fill a food bag for a family who may not have the resources to purchase food from the cafeteria.

Ariana’s selfless gift will do more than give hope, it will provide practical resources for children whose families have an imminent need, and it will enable parents to be able to fully focus on their child’s recovery instead of worrying about basic needs that can be provided through the Family Pantry.

Ariana’s generosity has impacted more people than she will ever know, including me. She already has me thinking about what I’m going to do with that check the next time my birthday rolls around!

To make a donation to our family pantry at Arnold Palmer Hospital and help our kids and families in need, visit the Orlando Health Foundation donation page.