Years ago, when I blogged for a major metropolitan newspaper, I wrote a post about giving back and I got skewered by another blogger. Apparently, talking about charitable giving in her world isn't cool. She considered it to be self-serving. I didn't. The blog highlighted five charities that we'd supported during the holidays as an illustration of how to raise a civic-minded child and in the hopes that it would get them continued donations.
Lots has changed since 2010. Shortly after I wrote that blog, my tween started having debilitating migraines. She had a couple of major unexplained sports injuries. She was having trouble getting out of bed, was dizzy all the time and had a rash that no one could diagnose. In December of 2014, she spit up a blob of blood in a Walmart parking lot. It was the beginning of very expensive and emotionally taxing journey to find out what was wrong. It would take two years for her to be diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome.
Last fall, she was unable to keep any food or water down and was diagnosed with Superior Mesenteric Artery Syndrome. We spent over a month in the hospital which was long, boring and scary. Every single person that came to visit, sent a card or dropped off a gift, made those days a little lighter. Children's hospitals do a great job with activities and surprises for younger kids, but when it came to teens, there's a gap. My daughter decided to do something about it.
Last week, my teen sent out the first #teamjaiden #joystory package. Months of planning went into the launch. She came up with a name and found a blogger to create the logo for her. Reached out to companies herself to solicit donations for the packages. Asked my blogging friends to send things, like make-up, that they get in the mail but just can't use. And, then she created an application process for tweens, teens and young adults.
To qualify for a #joystory package, you must have a medical condition requiring a medical device OR have a diagnosis of cancer or another life-threatening, terminal, degenerative and disabling illness. Once you apply and are approved, there's a waiting list. My daughter creates each box specifically for the recipient so it takes time. But it's worth it. Take a look.
#featurefriday i had the opportunity to create a #joystory care package for Brianna! Brianna is a 12 year old from Pittsburgh! At birth Brianna was diagnosed with Spina Bifida, a birth defect that causes incomplete closing of the spine as well as hydrocephalus. Over the last 12 years Brianna has endured over 41 major surgeries but hasn’t let that take away her passion, Dance! She loves being on stage and proving to others nothing can stop her, not even her disability!! To see the rest of Brianna’s package swipe below! We love you @brianna.dancer.udc, always keep shining!
Jaiden's had lots of applications and is in the process of putting together the next round of boxes. She's continuously in need of donations, both monetarily to pay for postage, and products. Currently, she has a need for things for younger kids because she is seeing an increase in applications for local children. If you'd like to support, please follow her on Instagram. Want to make a donation? Please contact us directly or you can send things from the #teamjaiden wish list on Amazon.
Seven years later, I am definitely not sorry that I taught my teen to be charitable or that I wrote about it. I think she's proven that she's not only a quality person, but that she deeply cares about others. She's sharing that joy with others. That makes my heart sing.