Children cheer up young patients with holiday cards

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Photo by Kelly White
Evergreen Park twins (from left) Jacob and Esau Ruvalcaba, 10, made Cards for Hospitalized Kids on Nov. 5 at the Evergreen Park Public Library.
By Kelly White
Kayla Tiffany loves children. She enjoys spending time with her younger siblings and cousins and cannot wait to be a babysitter one day.
“When I grow up, I want to be a preschool teacher,” said Kayla, 8, of Evergreen Park.
That was why sending positive messages to hospitalized children with the holiday season approaching was something Kayla was instantly excited to be a part of.
This was made possible through the creation of handmade holiday cards at the Evergreen Park Public Library’s Cards for Hospitalized Kids project Nov. 5. The free event was held at the library, 9400 S. Troy Ave, Evergreen Park.
“ I want to cheer kids up,” Kayla said.
“ Kayla is so caring and thoughtful and has such a generous heart,” said her grandmother, Robin Strohacker. “This is a wonderful event for her to be a part of, and I am so proud of her.”
The event was organized and guided by Laura Meyer, head of youth services at the Evergreen Park Library. Although it was a youth program, it bought in community members of all ages.
“This gives local children, teens, and even adults the opportunity to do something nice for someone they don’t know and hopefully bring some joy to a child in the hospital,” Meyer said. “We strive to have variety in our library programming. This especially gives kids the opportunity to be creative and send a cheerful message to another child.”
Each card was personalized by a child with their personal favorite colors and had an uplifting positive message written inside for the card’s recipient. Cards for Hospitalized Kids provided the library with a list of suggested messages for the cards and the holiday season combined in case patrons preferred to write a more generalized card.
Kayla’s message read: “I hope you have a great day! You rock!”
All materials were provided by the library staff. The cards were created out of construction paper that had holiday designs on them. Children were encouraged to make colorful designs with markers, colored pencils, crayons, and holiday-themed stickers.
The cards will be going to Cards for Hospitalized Kids, a non-for-profit based in Chicago that is an internationally recognized charitable organization that spreads hope and joy to hospitalized kids through uplifting, handmade cards. The program has been running for over five years and at the discretion of the organization, over 100,000 children in hospitals in all 50 states have received a personalized card through them, thanks to volunteers like those at the Evergreen Park Library.
Cards for Hospitalized Kids will be distributing them to children’s hospitals nationwide and to Ronald McDonald Houses for Children. The cards will be delivered prior to the Thanksgiving holiday.
“Through this event, participants can learn that everyone can give to others, even very young kids,” Meyer said. “We all have something to give. I’ve also heard parents explain to their kids why kids are sometimes in the hospital. It is a great opportunity to learn about empathy and compassion for others.”
Parents agreed, including Teresa Ruvalcaba, of Evergreen Park.
“This brings kids happiness and helps them to realize that they are not alone,” Ruvalcaba said.
The library holds this program several times during the calendar year and usually makes around 25 heartfelt cards at each event.
“We’ve been doing this program for a couple of years now, so the Evergreen Park community has made hundreds of cards for hospitalized kids,” Meyer said.

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