Outreach to housing for families of children's Hospitals.

Nick and I spent the entirety of Gabe's life living families who all had very, very ill children. Cancer, Heart Issues, Esophagus issues, Tumors, Brain issues (strokes, ect), Liver, Kidney, on and on and on.  Some of the issues were treatable and 'fixable' but most were 'hopeful' treatments. Most of the families were holding on to a string of hope that their child would be better when treatments were over.

Families that were deep into the thick of it often retreated from each other (as we did) because of many reasons- one being the exhaustion of what you are going through compiled with the exhaustion of reaching out to other families time and time again to watch their little ones often NOT get better.

We 'lost' a lot of little ones. The first one and second one are so vividly there that the pain of realizing how easily lost they are is still there. From then on, we were afraid of getting attached, every loss felt so much like 'our' loss. It felt so personal- it's hard to describe when it's so close to you.

These families are going through so much- they are away from their home, they do not have a private kitchen (and many times not even a private bathroom). They might have lost their jobs to be with their family members, they may have to be separate from half of their family to be with the other half. They sacrifice normalcy for hope.

Some of them (many of them) are financially shot. They rely on the hospital (social workers) for a little extra help with food money and even diaper money at times. We remember when the nurses stocked us up on a few packs of extra diapers when Gabe was discharged from time to time, and how thankful we were that those were available.

The Ronald McDonald House had one breast pump for use of mothers who were trying to supply for their little ones in the hospital, and we were so thankful for that, but it wouldn't have worked out if there were more than a few of us using it (It was a hospital grade pump that was fully sanitized after every use).

They often times would have supplies like Milk collection bags or bottles for these Mothers that were often donated by families of the Ronald McDonald house, or even stickers for the labeling and permanent markers.

They supplied meals for us many evenings, all sorts of churches or organizations came in (including the basketball team of 'giants' that Judah was amazed by).

All in all, what I am getting at is that these families have a lot of needs... A lot of needs that are VERY fillable.

Toys for Tots brought in Christmas presents for our little ones that we got to pick out of a big room of presents last Christmas... We had so much fun being able to give Judah (and Gabe!) a few things that we couldn't have provided on our own at the time.

Some Ronald McDonald Houses have closets with clothes for families to go and look at and pick out. Size nb-toddlers.

The Ronald McDonald House relies on donations for dry food storage... Oh can I tell you how wonderful it was when they brought in all the donations of 'toddler friendly' foods and snacks that we could just throw in Judah's diaper bag and run with to the hospital.

Toddler sealed and non expired, non refrigerated snacks that are helpful:
Those on the go fruit pouches with the twist of lids that they can slurp up (and are healthy, yippee!)
Animal crackers, Honey Graham crackers.
Granola Bars, Pretzels
Dried fruits, chips (as healthy as you can go)
Any other toddler friendly or baby friendly foods and snacks that are sealed, easy to use.
Juice boxes! Greatest thing ever for an on the go tot!
Some 'not so healthy' snacks are good too ;) Like cookies (nabisco).
Little boxes of cereals (those mini ones, or the ones in plastic bowls ready to go)
Sealed fruit cups that do not need to be refrigerated.
(Also, donating baggies for these to go in, ziplocks are always something they are thankful for)

But these supplies go fast, of course.

Donations of Formula are great too (sealed, unexpired), for families who could use the extra. Baby food, canned foods (soups are great for quick meals for Mommies inbetween the hospital and home).
Teas, sugar packets, hot chocolate packets, creamer packets, instant coffee... There are so many things that were so nice to have available.

Baby wipes would be a great donation, and diapers of various sizes! The main office usually kept this stuff until you asked for it, but it worked out great for families who really needed this stuff.

Anyway, I guess this blog is to remind ourselves what we would like to be able to help out with when the time comes!

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