This year, consider adding someone new to your holiday card list: a child in need — many children who have been diagnosed with serious illnesses will remain in hospital care during the holidays. There are several organizations trying to make the season a little bit brighter by organizing card donations for children who have to spend their Christmas or Hanukkah in the hospital. By sending a handmade card, you can help send a little love their way. Here are a few of our favorite places to start:
1. Cards for Hospitalized Kids
Founded by Jen Rubino — who was first hospitalized at age 11 — this internationally-recognized organization collects and sends out homemade cards to children around the country year round. Rubino had been a competitive gymnast when she was diagnosed with a tissue and bone disease in 2006. Realizing how lonely it felt to be a child in a hospital, she was inspired to create CFHK after receiving a handmade card from a hospital volunteer one day. Rubino is now a college student at Georgetown University and continues to oversee CFHK which has delivered cards to over 100,000 kids in all 50 states to date.
2. Caitlin's Smiles
On a mission to spread the joy of arts and crafts to children in need since 2004, Caitlin's Smiles was inspired by 7-year-old Caitlin Hornung who passed away in 2000 from cancer. To keep her crafty spirit alive, her mom, Cheryl, began sharing art supplies and homemade cards with other children battling illness. Today, the organization has collected and distributed thousands of "Bags of Smiles" — care packages filled with toys, books, art supplies, and craft supplies — to children's hospitals nationwide. You can donate a card to accompany your bag or donate crafting supplies to help fill one.
3. I See Me! Letters of Love
Partnering with the Children's Cancer Research Fund, these personalized children's book makers launched their first letter collection campaign this year (and it’s so simple to participate!) Click here to write your e-letter for a child in need. Letters will then be printed and delivered to kids mid-December. For every 50 letters received, I See Me! will donate a personalized "My Very Own Christmas" or "A Hanukkah Bear for Me" book to a child as a special gift.
4. Send a Smile 4 Kids
Since 2011, this volunteer-run blog has been collecting and delivering handmade cards to inpatient children at over a dozen hospitals nationwide. Cards can range from holiday-themed and birthday-related to an everyday friendly note. Just be sure to leave the insides blank as some cards are given to children to write for family members or doctors. And if you're feeling especially creative, the blog also hosts monthly crafting challenges where you can put your #ImSoMartha stationery skills to the test and win prizes — all for a good cause.
Feeling inspired? Try our 3D Christmas Tree card to get started: