Written By Brandy Centolanza
Last month, while attending an ice hockey game at Penn State, my children participated in a “teddy bear toss,” in which the crowd threw stuffed animals onto the ice to be collected for children with pediatric cancer. It was an important lesson for my kids about counting our blessings and remembering that we can help those less fortunate even in some small way. While we were in the store picking out those stuffed bunnies and bears for sick children, I explained the reason why what we were doing was helpful. My son has a stuffed dog named Clover that he turns to whenever life becomes a little overwhelming. He is comforted by Clover, and snuggles with him when he is down. I told my son that he was about to pass on these stuffed animals to children in the hospital, and that one of the bears could become the same source of comfort for a child, that the bear could become someone’s Clover, and keep the child company while he or she was away from home. My children, as healthy and carefree as they are (like most of us as we go about our daily lives doing our thing), can’t grasp the concept that while they are off to school each day there is a child in a hospital bed yearning to go home. The teddy bear toss, as well as a recent weeks-long hospital stay for a cousin the same age as my son, provided a little perspective. Knowing that we were giving those teddy bears to someone in need heartened my children, who were sad at the prospect of any child being holed up in the hospital for any reason. We may not be able to cure cancer or heal sick children, but we can bring smiles to their faces even if it is just for a moment.
P.S. After writing this, I read an article about a terminally-ill boy whose family is asking strangers to send birthday messages to their son for his 9th birthday because he loves to receive mail. Who doesn’t love getting a letter in the mail? We’ll be sending him a card this week, and here’s his address if you want to send a birthday wish to him too:
PO Box 1142
Graham, Washington 98338