I know it’s still September, but the holidays truly are just around the corner. I know many families plan financially for gift giving and spending that comes around that time of year.
During the holidays last year, we were given a phenomenal gift in our son, and we were overwhelmed by the amount of love and kindness that was shown to us by friends, co-workers, family, and even strangers.
Last holiday season we were separated from our daughter. We left for St. Louis and we had to leave her. It was heart wrenching to know that we were apart for our big family holiday. She spent Christmas at my parent’s house without us. We spent it by our son’s bedside waiting to see if we’d even get to hold him in his lifetime. It sucked. We were worried a little about money because we had to pay to stay in St. Louis while paying for our mortgage, we had to pay for all of our meals at the hospital, and it was really hard to make ourselves leave.
Something that really helped us was receiving gift cards. Being able to leave the hospital for a little bit to recharge and eat somewhere or being able to go to Wal-Mart to buy toiletries since we hadn’t packed enough for three and a half months when we left town…those things mattered. So. Much.
Every time the social worker came by after we’d had bad news, the little Panera card and thought of warm soup some stranger had bought for us made me feel that little flicker of hope, or at least like we could hold out a little longer. Knowing some stranger or some friend was invested in us and wanted to help in whatever way they could kept us from ever feeling completely alone. I want to be able to do that for other families.
This year, as a family, we are collecting and donating gift cards to send to St. Louis Children’s Hospital. We are going to ask that the cards we send be given to families in the Cardiac Units, preferably ones who are out of town.
Friends and family who had thought to send gifts to us, we are asking that you instead send your gifts in the form of gift cards or cash donations to the St Louis Children’s Hospital Foundation. You can view the foundation’s website here.
For Gift Cards, we recommend:
- Einstein’s Bagels
- Jimmy Johns
With any donation you send (either to us or directly to the hospital) please include a letter stating these things.
- You are donating in memory of Rowan Fowler
- You’d like the money or cards to preferentially benefit families of children who are in the Cardiac units who are away from their families especially during the holidays.
- Your name and address (to allow them to send you a tax receipt should you need one)
If you would like to send your personal gift to the families with heart children in the hospital this holiday season to us, you certainly may. We will be collecting them all through October to send out to St. Louis in early November.
However, you can send the cards directly to the address below:
Attn: Karen Rieker
St. Louis Children’s Hospital Foundation
1 Children’s Place
St. Louis, Missouri 63110
Please spread the word if you can. I grieve for my son. I grieve that he isn’t a healthy little boy that is here playing with his big sister. But I pour my grief into helping others. I am so proud of the positive influence my son had on my life. I am proud of the good he brought out in others and the way that people came together. I don’t want the good that he brought out to be undone. I remember my son by helping others. It means a lot to me when others remember him that way too.