‘Tis the season of caring, sharing, family, and fun. Unfortunately for many children this year Christmas will be another day during which they have to be in the hospital, away from their friends and family. In 2012, I realized that I was very blessed to have so much in my life and I wanted to give something back. I decided to try and make Christmas a little brighter for those children who, by no choice of their own, can’t be with their family and friends at Christmas. In addition, many of these families have overwhelming piles of medical bills and cannot get the gifts their children dream of. Hence Gabby’s Gifts was born.
`I remember being 5 or 6 and being asked to stay overnight in the hospital. Those words were scary because when you are a kid, the only things that matter are your bed, your blanky, and your family. None of which the hospital had. The nurse left the room to let my parents fully explain to me that one night in the hospital did not mean living there forever, yet I still remember feeling alone and afraid. When the nurse entered the room again she had in her hand a “Gabriella” doll from the movie High School Musical. She gave me the doll and proceeded to say “I saw this and thought of you she can be with you through the whole stay” and ya know what I was okay with staying in the hospital. To a five year old I felt OK because “these people gave me toys” but when I as a 16-year-old looking back at it, I truly believe it was because I had something to hold that helped me feel safe... I hope that the toys I donate have the same effect on children.
Every year I have collected money or gifts to donate to the University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s hospital. Which also happens to be the same hospital that changed my life forever. In 2017 I had my own long hospital stay over the holidays and became one of the very kids I’ve tried to help over the years. My own hospital stay helped me to understand how the children really feel and the types of gifts that are so meaningful. All of the money raised is used to purchase gifts for the children such as toys, slippers, pajamas, and other things that the kids have asked for via a list provided by “Child Family Life, a department that helps kids to feel as much at home as possible while in the hospital.” I try to keep up to date with all the coolest shows and most popular characters to ensure that all the kids get something that they can relate to.
In 2016, thanks to the generosity of the community, I was able to raise enough to buy over 200 gifts. 2017 I was in the hospital myself. Last year 2018 we bought 300 gifts! We keep growing from my first year in 2012 when I had 3 bags of toys to have carts of 20 or more bags! I hope to keep improving the holidays for every child who has to experience them in the hospital.
I want to thank you in advance for considering to donate and helping to make a child’s Christmas a little brighter.