Thursday, November 16, 2017

Families, Too

Ok—similar to the Purple Pride blog post, this one is going to be in first person, Ike – founder of Cardz for Kidz!. Sorry, I know it is not normal, but I really, really need to explain why I’m breaking SOOO many rules! First, just like all the other blog posts, I have to be 100% open and honest. The overall point of this post is to explain why we’ve sent nearly 1000 cards to Ronald McDonald Houses (RMHs) across the globe and we’re going to send many more… In fact, for several RMH locations, I did not even connect with them in advance and make them “pinky promise” to me (sight unseen) that they would deliver all the cards room-to-room before we shipped cards to them.

Now, permit me to explain a bit more. First, we’ve been growing and I’ve been reaching out to new hospitals and shelters—thankfully we’ve connected with a bunch. I got in touch with a couple Ronald McDonald Houses and they expressed interest. Then, when we heard of natural disasters, like the ones that hit Texas and Florida in the summer of 2017, we made sure to send cards to children in RMHs there.

The main reason stems from my Purple Pride experience. In that blog post, and when I lost the bet with the board and first wrote the Can’t Complain post, I highlighted how I underwent brain surgery on my left temporal lobe to overcome my seizures. As you can see in the pictures, below, during the surgery the six of us were all together throughout the different waves.

In my Can’t Complain post I touched on how I heard some of the most difficult news about the potential side effects of this surgery—and I happened to be by myself in my hospital room. I said all that to stress this: I understand and believe it’s imperative for families to be close to patients as much as possible. Therefore, Cardz for Kidz! would LOVE to reward Ronald McDonald Houses for all they do for families—since that has a significant impact on the patients as well.

Then, being selfish, the toughest part of everything (for me) was thinking of how my surgery impacted my family. With that in mind, I’d LOVE being able to help send more than enough cards to these RMH locations so there are enough cards for not only the children who are patients, but also for their siblings and parents; that way everyone can receive encouraging attention during the trying time AND no one would feel like a burden to others. Understandably so, while a sibling is going through a tough time (ranging from brain surgery to cancer) the family will focus almost exclusively on that specific child’s needs. Based on my experience as the patient, I’d love to be able to give back and let the siblings know that although folks need to focus primarily on their sibling (the patient), we at Cardz for Kidz!, are specifically thinking about them.

Yes, I understand that pediatric patients may not take it as hard as I did—in terms of how their condition is impacting their loved ones. Either way, I know these situations will impact their siblings. With that in mind, I personally feel they deserve special cards and should also be uplifted. Often with some conditions, a child is diagnosed and the family is impacted. With that in mind, we’ll continue to reach out and send cards to Ronald McDonald Houses so siblings and parents can also be encouraged. That could range from giving the card to their sibling (the patient), to just simply remembering to smile in that situation impacting the entire family. Although when I wrote the mission statement I strictly listed: “hospitalized and/or traumatized children,” I think it’s important that we reach out to FAMILIES, TOO—based on my experience as a patient as well as an employee and volunteer at children’s hospitals.

A repost from the Ronald McDonald House in San Antonio Instagram account of a little girl proudly holding her cards. 

#familiestoo #upliftingspirits

To see more pictures and stories, please check out our website; like us on Facebook; follow us on Twitter and Instagram; visit our Google+ or LinkedIn pages! Also, check out some of our videos on YouTube! 

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Still Important

“We work with corporate groups all the time who want to make things for our kids and we don’t usually accommodate anyone who isn’t an existing donor.” ––[Redacted], from [Redacted] nonprofit. For their sake we’re not going to say their name or state which nonprofit they represent.

For some background, we recall we were talking to someone from a larger nonprofit and they were discussing how they were a bit disappointed and/or shocked how some groups request participating, but weren’t financially giving enough. For example, they wanted to volunteer their time, but weren’t donating thousands of dollars. Since that organization has a lot of overhead costs and gives away a lot of gifts, groups or individuals who don’t make significant monetary donations just aren’t as important.

With us, it’s completely different. So yes, we do try to have an annual fundraiser where we tried to raise thousands so we could purchase additional gifts and toys for the children at our hospitals. But to be honest, only ONE group who has their logo up on our Participants tab made a pledge for that fundraiser––special thanks to our buddies at Teads. In fact, UBS is one of the only groups who has made several financial contributions and has allowed us to fully recognize them on our site.

Although when a group goes above and beyond, we just have to say something––what’s most important is that we’re getting cards not just bringing in large monetary donations. One of the reasons why is that everyone who “works” at Cardz for Kidz! does so during their “free time!”

We were watching a news channel exclusive report, a couple months ago, and learned about a charity that went to an extreme with its fundraising. In summary, they raised funds and told their donors they were giving patients special boxes, but actually weren’t giving them much at all! Please check out this link to video about the Cancer Charity. Now, after watching that, please understand, your contributions are different here. We use your funds to purchase video game systems, DVD players, and ship cards across the globe. Finally, we’re all volunteers and do this in our free time; you don’t have to worry about anything like that!

Although we LOVE it when there are groups and/or individuals who are willing to donate both time and money so we can reach more children, unlike some other larger, more prominent nonprofits, we think groups who are NOT able to donate thousands of dollars are STILL IMPORTANT. However, you contribute to Cardz for Kidz!, know that you’re making a difference in the lives of many children and their families!

#stillimportant #upliftingspirits

To see more pictures and stories, please check out our website; like us on Facebook; follow us on Twitter and Instagram; visit our Google+ or LinkedIn pages! Also, check out some of our videos on YouTube!

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Go Postal

First, we got to start off by saying we’re sorry. We understand by using some of the terms/phrases in the blog post we may offend and bring up some tough memories for people, but we REALLY have to get something off our chest!

As always, let’s start with some 100% open and honesty. If you look on our How-To website you’ll see the address for where people should ship the cards underlined. We’ll use this as a chance to remind people, Cardz for Kidz!, 323 E Wacker #11, Chicago, IL 60601.  A couple times we’ve had some groups reach out to us and let us know they were in the area and ask if they could simply drop off the cards. Well, here’s the honesty, that’s actually not an office. It’s just a UPS Mailbox. As we’ve listed in a bunch of prior posts, everyone who “works” at Cardz for Kidz! does this in what was formerly known as free time. We got that UPS mailbox as it’s close to our founder’s 9-5 job, open till 7pm, and he can stop by there on his way home.

Since the UPS is more convenient, we use that for collecting the packages, but it’s more expensive for shipping, so for that we’ve always stuck with the United States Post Service. If you look at the timeline, on our About Us page, you’ll notice that we started sending cards to hospitals before we were approved as a 501c3 certified non-profit. That means that we had started shipping cards to kids across the Midwest out of our own pocket, since we weren’t getting any dollar donations from any corporations. We didn’t have our partnership with our bank like we do now, or a gofundme, or anything like that. We simply would receive cards from different groups, primarily in Chicago. Then, during lunch, our founder would walk over to the post office in the basement of the Sears/Willis Tower and ship them out to our partnering locations. Based on his consistency, the ladies at the post office became real friendly and helpful. And actually, it’ll never be forgotten. After one of the shipments in Q4 2012 our founder paid with his card and Ms. B, an employee at the USPS asked him to wait a second, she later walked around and brought him a card with $20 in it. She confirmed that she supported what he was doing. According to our records, she gave another $20 on November 13, 2013. Both of those were before we had the formal tax-deductible receipts on nice letter head!

It’s not just Ms. B either. We’ve had multiple positive experiences during our many trips to the post office. So we’ve mentioned it a few times, some of us have a background in data analysis. With that in mind, we definitely can’t say we’ve done quantitative analysis and analyzed how helpful EVERY post office worker is, but we can say we’ve shipped approximately 35,000 cards from the USPS – just check out the packages in our deliveries albums to get an example of some of the trips.

Based on that, and the fact that we’ve shipped cards in post offices in Southfield, Atlanta, and multiple locations in Chicago, we can say we’ve done extensive amount of qualitative research. With that in mind, we fully believe there’s something special about the vast majority of people we’ve been able to connect with- from being helpful in recommending how we could save money – using different types of packages, to making monetary donations, or to making cards.

With all that in mind, we think there needs to be a modification to the overall term or idea of Postal. We think they’re so far above and beyond that we’ll try be using that term in only a positive light! We’re encouraging people to GO POSTAL, aka impact Cardz for Kidz! all around!

#gopostal #upliftingspirits

To see more pictures and stories, please check out our website; like us on Facebook; follow us on Twitter and Instagram; visit our Google+ or LinkedIn pages! Also, check out some of our videos on YouTube!

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Love Note

Dear Lurie Children’s Hospital,

We were trying to think of how to express our appreciation for everything you’ve done. After much deliberation, we decided to write you a LOVE note—since these used to work back in elementary school. Only this time we’re going to expand past the simple “Roses are red, Violets are blue/We wouldn’t be global/If it wasn’t for YOU!” Instead we wrote you this full nursery rhyme...or at least we tried to!
Most of our blog posts state a bunch of stories or facts,
But this one is differentand hopefully has a greater impact.
That’s because we decided to write you a love note,
In order to express our thoughts and potentially some quotes.
Yes, it’s true we work with all kinds of locations under the sun,
But no matter how many we add you’ll always be number one.

We know there’s a lot here so you may not all know how it’s going,
So, here’s some background on how we were first started flowing.
After years of simply volunteering, our founder connected with his boss, Boe,
And the encouragement from the Child Life and Activity Room continued to grow.
More and more people like Ellen and Nicole joined in and said, “Yes, it’s OK!”
It was actually their idea that the cards not mention health, and, instead, brighten a child’s day.

It’s funny…we believe our relationship first started when you were Children’s Memorial,
And we simply had one group who we gave a ‘How to Be Creative’ tutorial.
But now our relationship has grown since those days in Lincoln Park;
Thankfully it’s been long lasting and wasn’t simply a small spark.
Now that you’re located at 225 E. Chicago, we’re able to do so much more.
For example, we started Cardz WITH Kidzsomething everyone adores!
During those events, you let us bring artists to ensure children/families feel the impact,
And we all work together to ensure that everyone’s smiles stay intact!

You’re more special than the 2,800+ cards we’ve delivered that produced some smiles.
Even more special than your custom made hot dog created from LegosChicago style.
You’re more precious than the beautiful view of boats on Lake Michigan the children enjoy,
More spectacular than the special 3-D woodblocks or the fun penguin-themed toys!
We’ve sent cards to over 100 different locations and to kids in all types of situations;
But you’ll always be the first and we wanted to express our utmost appreciation.

Thanks again for everything, Ann & Robert H. LurieChildren’s Hospital of Chicago. A few people have seen the pictures and seen the impact, but we don’t think YOU realize how helpful you have been, overall. We just wanted to write you this LOVE NOTE so you knew exactly how we felt.

Here are some LOVELY pictures from prior events and when we dropped off cards!


#lovenote #upliftingspirits

To see more pictures and stories, please check out our website; like us on Facebook; follow us on Twitter and Instagram; visit our Google+ or LinkedIn pages! Also, check out some of our videos on YouTube!

Thursday, September 14, 2017

A Bit Fuzzy

100% Open and Honest. We were looking back at some of our posts, and didn’t see our motto included, so we wanted to remind you all of our goal to always be “100% Open and Honest.” So, just so you know, we’ve only heard positive feedback about all of the cards that we’ve sent out. We’ve received great pictures from some of the hospitals/shelters and heard and seen some lovely stories. Even with all that positive news, we know there’s some potential negative issues with some of the tools that are being used to make the cards. We wanted to share with you some new guidelines, just be aware that the person hosting an event may not have seen these guidelines yet, so be kind to each other – and simply direct them here for future event planning. WE RECOMMEND THAT PEOPLE COMPLETELY AVOID SPRINKLE GLITTER, FUZZ BALLS, FELT STICKERS, OR OTHER FUZZY MATERIALS.

Our first concern about these types of crafts is that they didn’t last. Often by the time the cards reach us here at Cardz for Kidz! a lot of those types of materials have already fallen off. Then when you think that we have to check them, then ship them to our locations there’s even more room for damage during transport. That’s why we previously told people to refrain from using beads, buttons, or bulky items. If you look closely at the bag below, you can see one of the cards lost a lot of its sparkle before the young boy even opened it up. 

Similar to a lot of children, and as confirmed by his mother, he was still excited to receive the cards, but it still wasn’t exactly what the artist intended it to be.
  • Cardzforkidz: “…Looks like a little glitter is coming off, sorry about that!”
  • Mother: “No biggie! Our daughter loved the glitter 😊

While this child and parent didn’t have a problem, there’s still 30K+ other families who haven’t told us what they think! Based on that, and that we want all our cards to get to kids in one piece, we’re definitely leaning towards using glitter glue rather than sprinkle glitter.
But, now, where it comes a bit more serious, we have to ask, “what if?” We understand that with standard card stock, we don’t have to worry about transmitting germs as much. In addition, with stickers or decorations that attach firmly to that type of paper, we don’t have to worry about the cards falling apart or kiddos choking.

In addition, we heard from one hospital when they requested that we not send cards with glitter since that could impact patients’ breathing tubes. We haven’t heard anything from the other places we partner with, but we still think it’s something we should look out for.
Since we’re always a bit over protective of our kids, we’re asking that if you’re making cards to send to kids who are currently in-patients, that you don’t use fuzz balls, feathers or other little things that are NOT effectively attached to the cards. With buttons, if you can secure them tightly, then that works well! And, remember, the cards have to survive a couple of trips through the post office and our sorting process!

Since we haven’t heard back from the hospitals and/or shelters declining these types of materials, we understand we may be being a bit over protective, but we just wanted to get the word out, before it was a 100% must. So right now, will the kids still love those cards, YES. Will the hospitals or shelters still accept those cards, probably. Do we still want those types of cards? The answer to that is A BIT FUZZY right now. We’ll accept them, but we’d LOVE it if you could avoid those materials. Either way, to be on the safe side, we updated the Supplies list on our How-To page to only include supplies that will work best for the children.

#abitfuzzy #upliftingspirits

To see more pictures and stories, please check out our website; like us on Facebook; follow us on Twitter and Instagram; visit our Google+ or LinkedIn pages! Also, check out some of our videos on YouTube!

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Break the Record

  • Creative Consultants
  • Huron’s Creative Group
  • Huron’s Helping
  • Improved Logo, Improved Quality
  • Huron’s the Consistent Group (HCG)
  • Creative Advice
  • Consistent Creativity
  • Creative Consultation
  • Creative Advisers
  • A Creative Group
  • Where It All Began

Shoot. We can’t think of any more!

We’ve been using different photo caption headlines each time, and we’re not sure if we’ll be able to think of new ones…but that’s a good thing!

Here’s the story. If you check out our Top 10 album on Facebook, you’ll notice that with each of the pictures there’s a catchy/witty headline before we list the amount of cards, the quarter, and location(s) from which the cards were sent. Right now, our “issue” is that Huron Consulting Group (Huron) is consistently making top-notch cards that we’re starting to run out of ideas for headlines!

Some of our behind-the-scenes people are pretty competitive. That’s one of the reasons #everycardcounts has a double meaning. We want the children (and seniors) to be happy––so we make sure every card is delivered room by room; still, the competitive spirit within us wants to be able to make sure we count the cards to ensure that we keep growing and know where all of these quality cards come from.

Currently, Huron is tied with ArrowStream for the record of seven consecutive quarters making quality cards. One thing to note is how they’ve been making cards, which is very different. As mentioned in the Team Effort blog post, Huron has gathered multiple offices across the country to host card-making events to produce their artwork. With that in mind, while another group may have made seven (total) cards in one quarter, Huron has made at least 40 cards per quarter. The last time Huron didn’t make cards was Q3 2015––but they made cards the quarter before: 222 in Q2 2015.

In addition, not only have they volunteered and made cards in their different offices, but some Huron employees personally came to uplift the spirits of these young patients and their families at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago during our #cardzWITHkidz event. As you can see, below, each of the artists took time to interact with some of the children directly.

All we did to reward these volunteers was allow them to keep the beaded jewelry that the children made for them as well as one of the beautifully colored puppy pictures.

There are some companies and/or groups who only want to participate if there’s a hospital or shelter in the immediate vicinity of their office. Then there are other groups, near the 500+ quality cards made threshold, but their favorite part of participating in Cardz for Kidz! is not having to leave the office; so, they decline our invitation(s) to interact with these young patients and their families. With Huron, Cardz for Kidz! has the best of both worlds: offices across the country consistently make quality cards––plus employees willing to go the extra mile and directly interact with the some of the children who receive our cards.

Since they have multiple offices joining in, we think they’re going to officially BREAK THE RECORD and keep their consecutive quarters streak alive. It’s always a dream come true when groups are willing to keep streaming

#breaktherecord #upliftingspirits

To see more pictures and stories, please check out our website; like us on Facebook; follow us on Twitter and Instagram; visit our Google+ or LinkedIn pages! Also, check out some of our videos on YouTube!

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Tell A Friend

As usual, with this blog post, we’re going to be 100% Open and Honest! Special thanks to Google…we think...since we’ve been growing. Well, we know we’re thankful to the different Google offices for hosting their events and making nearly 500 cards. We’re looking forward to moving their logo up to the Platinum group on our participants page. Also, having their logo on our website helps give us some type of credibility. Finally, they helped set us up on the corporate giving website Benevity which has helped us connect to some corporations. All of that is AMAZING, but that’s not what we’re originally referring to. We’re not talking about Google Inc, but referring to!

It’s been touched on before, but, in the past, we simply worked with groups where we had direct connections. Or maybe there was a bit of stretch – someone knew someone, who knew someone who was willing to get it going. Thankfully, that’s been changing recently. Now we’ve been hearing from groups that simply learned about us by finding our website online!

Every now and then, we try to check in to see how some of these new groups heard about us. Some of them will let us know that it’s via our social sites, others say it’s through social sites we do not have a strong presence on (e.g. Pinterest), and, finally, some who say they first heard of us by using a search engine (organic search).  If you notice at the end of the blog post, we do have several different social sites and we try to link those all back to our website as much as possible. Then, on our site, we try to use keywords and link to other sites, but we’re not sure if that’s the vital part. 

Thankfully more groups have been reaching out to us online and letting us know that they’d like to join in. But, since everyone who “works” at Cardz for Kidz! does this in their “free” time we can’t respond to those messages right away.

We were told that we may be able to get more cards if we started to pay for keywords to drive people to our website and encourage people to participate. Although Search Engine Marketing is great and is DEFINITELY growing in marketing, we believe we should invest those dollars in ways that will directly impact our kids and have a direct ROI – smiles on kids’ faces. We’ll continue to do all types of Search Engine Optimization tricks we’ve heard of, but you spreading the word is WAY more efficient! We’ll continue to use little creative optimization tricks on our end in order to receive more cards, but we still know the most effective way for us to reach more kids is for you to TELL A FRIEND. Let’s work together to make a bigger impact!

#tellafriend #upliftingspirits

To see more pictures and stories, please check out our website; like us on Facebook; follow us on Twitter and Instagram; visit our Google+ or LinkedIn pages! Also, check out some of our videos on YouTube!