From the very start of Angels for Hearts we had very generous donors; $5,000 buys a lot of toys and gifts. We knew that we could not give the hospitals hundreds or thousands of gifts and toys for Christmas. The heart kids only wake up with 1-2 gifts from ‘Santa’ on Christmas morning.
We had to find a way to make sure that the generous amount of donations we receive at Christmas could help the kids and Child Life Specialists all year. I came up with the idea of ‘Wishes, Wants & Needs’ funds. These funds are gift cards come in Target and Visa Gift Cards. The pediatric heart units are full of patients all year not just at Christmas. We work very closely with the Child Life Specialist, and leave the distribution of the funds to their discretion.
The patients do not get these funds directly. ‘Wishes, Wants & Needs’ are such things as: Happy Meal, Pizza Party to celebrate after a big surgery, birthday gifts for the child, knitting supplies, books, coloring books and crayons. ‘Wish, Want & Needs’ funds help the Child Life Specialist to be able to take care of what is ‘wished, wanted or needed’ by the patient without having to ask the parents or families to pay for it. ‘Wish, Want & Need’ items are for the patient to enjoy and take home with them.
Our ‘Wishes, Wants & Needs’ program also has helped at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital with the donation of 2 IPads in September of 2010 that helped to make a Grant Study come to life. A Child Life Specialist was granted funds to do a grant study to study the anxiety levels of Pediatric Heart patients going through the heart transplant process. She developed applications that could help the children to understand what the process would be for them as they go through the entire transplant process from walking into the hospital for doctor’s appointments all the way to walking out the door after receiving their new heart. They are using the IPads for taking pictures so that the child can remember what the doctor looks like, movies and games for distraction during procedures, they even had transplant child offer to be video taped so that they could show in real time what the transplant process looks like; those are just a few examples of what she is able to do with the IPads. This Grant Study is ground breaking and Angels for Hearts is proud to be a part of it.
Angels for Hearts was happy to be the first to give Ipads to all our Child Life Cardiac Departments. Items like the Ipad are crucial to helping a child be educated about their heart ailments and also in the recovery process. Pediatric Heart Patients have shown a decrease in anxiety over 36% lower when using Ipads to help educate them about their procedures and surgeries. The Ipads can be used as distraction tools, learning tools, and also a form of communication for Skype, facetime, photos, emailing notes to family and friends. Also the Child Life can use pictures of the heart child in the hospital to prepare siblings as to what to expect when the see their sibling for the first time to take away the anxiety of what all the tubes and bandages are for. As of December 2012 we have given over 12 Ipads to Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital, Sutter Children’s Center Sacramento, UC Davis Children’s Hospital, UC Davis Pediatric Heart Center and Sutter’s Pediatric Congenital Hearts Center Sacramento.
The amount of ‘Wish, Want & Need’ funds given to the individual hospitals have ranged from $500.00 to $5,000.00. The distribution amount depends on the needs of the individual hospital’s Child Life Programs as well as our fundraising for the year.