Jan 5, 2012

A Helping Hand: Our Favorite Children's Charities

Anyone who has ever had an ill child can tell you that having the support of others can make a huge difference. Having a support system in place can be the difference between falling apart, and meeting each new obstacle as it comes. For families of critically ill children, that support often comes not only from family, friends and the community, but from other parents facing the same obstacles, and celebrating the same milestones as your family, as well as from non-profit organizations and charities that work with children just like ours.

Many of these organizations understand exactly what having a critically ill child can entail: they were started by the families of just such a special child and have gone on to become some of the leading supporters of programs and resources for children and families facing similar medical crises.

Since Aloshua's birth, his family has been blessed to become involved with several of these charities. We'd like you to meet these organizations and consider how you can help ensure they're able to continue operating in your communities. 

The March of Dimes is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization initially created by Franklin D. Roosevelt to help fight polio. In the years since, the March of Dimes has transformed into an international organization that performs research and provides research grants and opportunities for medical personnel in an attempt to eliminate prematurity, neural tube defects, and pregnancy issues that put children at risk. Globally, there are 13 million children born prematurely every year. The March of Dimes is fighting to change that through research programs and education and awareness activities in communities across the globe. The March of Dimes is also an excellent resource for anyone with questions about premature birth, neural tube defects such as spina bifida, state and federal policies that help support mothers and infants and so much more.   

You can sign up to help by donating directly to the March of Dimes here, by Marching for Babies locally this spring (you can sign up to march with Team Losh here), or by signing on to volunteer here.

The first Ronald McDonald House opened in Philadelphia in 1974 after Philadelphia Eagles' player Fred Hill's daughter was diagnosed with leukemia. In the years since, RMHC has grown into an international charity with over 300 houses established around the world. These houses are typically located near pediatric hospitals and provide a home away from home for the families of critically and terminal ill children, allowing those families to stay together to support their ailing child or sibling.

Families are provided a room, showers, laundry facilities, kitchens, and all the little comforts of home, and no one is turned away if they are unable to pay the requested $10 to $20 a night rent (which goes toward keeping each individual house up and running). While McDonald's is a major donor of the organization, the organization itself is its own entity and the majority of donations come from a variety of local businesses and private donors. In many states, RMHC also operates Care Mobiles, providing free or low cost dentistry services to low-income and at-risk children.

You can help RMHC by making a donation here, or at your local Ronald McDonald House, by collecting the tabs from soda and soup cans and turning them in to your local Ronald McDonald House to recycle, by volunteering at your local House (group opportunities, such as cooking dinner for families of the house or completing a room make over at some House locations, are available), or by participating in one of the numerous local, national or international events established to support Ronald McDonald House Charities. For other ideas and opportunities, contact your local Ronald McDonald House.

Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation was created by Alexandra Scott, a child diagnosed with neuroblastoma (cancer) who wanted to give back to the people who helped her by opening a lemonade stand after undergoing a surgical procedure at age four. As promised, when Alex was released from the hospital, she opened her lemonade stand with the help of her siblings and raised over $2,000.00 for her hospital.

By the time Alex passed away in 2004 at age 8, she had helped raise over 1 million dollars to help benefit childhood cancer research. Since her death, her family has continued the tradition, and Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation has become an international organization that has raised over $50 million to support childhood cancer research through grants and similar programs.

You can get involved by donating to ALSF here, by attending one of the ALSF's special events, by volunteering to host your own lemonade stand, to get your school involved and much more, or by signing on to become a Stand Ambassador in your local community here.

The Make a Wish Foundation was started in 1980 after U.S. Customs Officer Tommy Austin became acquainted with 7-year-old Chris Greicius, who was being treated for leukemia. Chris had always wanted to be a police officer, and as his health declined, Tommy Austin was determined to make his wish come true.

In April of 1980, the Arizona Department of Public Safety banned together to grant Chris's wish and provided him with a day of police activity. In May of that year, Chris passed away, but his wish started a legacy that has endured. Since 1980, the Make a Wish foundation has granted 216,458 wishes for children, including Aloshua (whose family spent a week in Florida in 2010, meeting Mickey Mouse and hanging out at Give Kids the World and Disney). 

Make a Wish grants wishes for children from age 2 and a half to age 18 who have been diagnosed with a life threatening medical condition. Once a child has been referred and deemed eligible, the Make a Wish foundation works with private donors, businesses and organizations around the world to fund the child's wish, no matter how big or small.

You can get involved with Make a Wish by donating here, by volunteering your time and talents to Wish kids, by donating airline miles to fly Wish kids to their locations, or by Adopting a Wish. Know a child that could use a Wish? You can refer him or her to Make a Wish here.

Give Kids the World Village was created in an effort to grant the wish of a young girl, Amy, who was being treated for leukemia. She wanted to visit the theme parks in Orlando, but because it took so long to arrange travel plans for her, Amy passed away before her wish could be granted. After hearing her story, Henri Landiworth was determined to ensure that such a wish was never granted too late again. He started the Give Kids the World Village, a 70-acre non-profit resort specifically designed for children with life threatening illnesses to enjoy cost-free vacations.

As mentioned above, Aloshua was able to go to Give Kids the World Village in 2010 and his family fell in love with the resort. Each family is given their own themed villa (often designed like mini castles, mushrooms and much more) for their stay and have access to magical, storybook venues for the duration of their stay such as a dinosaur themed golf course, a life-sized Candyland park, an ice cream shoppe that serves ice cream for breakfast, a fairytale castle, a petting zoo, the Park of Dreams (water garden and wheelchair accessible pool), and much more. The park provides everything from transportation to themed parties every night of the week to meals for guest families, as well as access to Orlando attractions big and small.

You can donate to Give Kids the World here, volunteer to help out at the park or to provide services to the children and families here, get your corporation or group involved here, or participate in special events.

These are only a few of the charities working for children who, like Aloshua, face life threatening obstacles many of us will never endure. Team Losh is proud to support these organizations, and we hope that you will join us in helping bring comfort to those who most need it by getting involved in one of these organizations, or others like them.

As the saying goes, "No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted."

All our love, 
Your Team Losh Captains

1 comment:

  1. "If you haven't any charity in your heart you have the worst kind of heart trouble" to cure it
    Help people, let's unite for one good cause, be a volunteer"save lives"!