Friday, October 25, 2013


What would you do?

Here’s a story from a former volunteer at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital in Ann Arbor, Michigan. We’d love to receive some responses of how you would react in this situation!

Over my decade of volunteering I've interacted with thousands of patients, but I’ll always remember my favorite, Penelope Washington *.

In the summer of 2005, I was prepping to have surgery at The University of Michigan. Since I had volunteered and/or worked at Motts for years I decided to volunteer as LONG as possible. During a couple special shifts I met a 3 year old patient named Penelope. There was an immediate connection. Each time I saw her she was with her mom and grandma. Originally I wasn't sure why she was in the hospital on the neurology floor, but I learned quickly. During one of our adventures in the playroom she collapsed and started having a grand mal seizure. I immediately stepped back in fear and watched her mom and grandma repeatedly call her name to get her attention. Externally her body was convulsing and internally I was shaking. I don’t quite remember exactly how it ended, but I do remember that we quickly returned to our game.

The next day Penelope and I were playing in the special rice box (used dyed rice instead of sand since it was easier to clean up). Out of nowhere she had another one of her seizures, but this time she fell into my arms. I immediately looked for help. Her mom and grandma stepped back and told me what to do. I repeatedly called her name and asked her to look at me. We made eye contact. Seemed like hours the tiny girl uncontrollably shook in my arms. Finally it stopped. Immediately she popped up and said “ALL DONE!” and pulled my hands to quickly get back to work; playing in the rice box followed by drawing beautiful pictures.

That situation put everything into perspective. Amazing how this young girl was able to quickly overcome her trials and focus on future opportunities. Amazing how she was strong enough to immediately smile after that terrifying experience rather than dwell on potential difficulties. Due to her I was able to overcome my own situation the following month; left selective amygdalohippocampectomy. Although that was over 8 years ago she still has an impact. What was most surprising is that she felt that SHE was the lucky one. Her mom, Bree*, stated that:
I remember like it was yesterday, the afternoon you carried her to the play room. The Drs. had brought her up to toxic on another failed seizure med and she was so weak she couldn't walk. You came and got her and took her to sit with you and the other children. You were (are) her knight in shining armor. Sometimes, in the most frightening experience we find a gift from God. And you…are ours.
 In terms of impacting pediatric patients the statement must be true, ‘a little goes a long way’.

In fact, to this day I have a gift from her on my “inspirational wall”. Wall includes:
1.   Laminated and framed Ann Arbor News article about a bowler who played her best game ever after having brain surgery. 
2.   A mounted Booker T Washington quote; ‘success is to be measured not so much by the position one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome while trying to succeed.’

And of course, right between those monuments is a laminated and framed picture Penelope made for me. On this masterpiece her mother wrote the text ‘All Done’ and signed Penelope’s name. Penelope delicately added a creative brown design at the bottom and two stunning orange circles at the top. The artwork also has a picture of her in a delicate white and red dress, as well as a special honeycomb sticker.

Still to this day, I remember how she peeled off the sticker she got for being “good” and gave it to me as a gift. That sticker will remain framed for all time. I’m still friends with Bree on Facebook and continually get updates on how Penelope is doing and how the medicine is impacting her. Thanks to her strength and encouragement I was able to keep a smile on my face throughout my situation.

Cardz for Kidz! understands that there’s no way everyone can connect with patients first hand and/or have a lasting relationship, but we'll continue to try and post pictures of the children you're impacting. Also, we try to ensure that patients who don’t have a volunteer to come pick them up and take them to the playroom are still uplifted so we send your cards. And since the ‘gifts’ are delivered room to room, you can be sure that YOU are making a difference.

With these partnerships, a lot of patients’ and participants’ distress, discouragement and disappointment are ALL DONE!!

#alldone #upliftingspirits

Check out the post ‘TooSmall?? No Such Thing’ for another first hand story from a volunteer. Please reach out if you have any special stories about connecting with a hospitalized and/or traumatized child.
To see more pictures and stories please check out our Facebook page, or follow us on Twitter @cardzforkidz

*modified names due to HIPAA/Patient Privacy Regulations. In addition, we removed the author of the post's name due to those guidelines.

Monday, October 14, 2013

One at a Time!

Mission Statement: Cardz for Kidz! is an organization dedicated to uplifting the spirits of hospitalized and/or traumatized children across the globe by delivering inspiring homemade cards!

Slogan: Cardz for Kidz! Uplifting Spirits, One Card at a Time

Many people have asked how we came up with our Mission Statement and Slogan.

The Mission Statement indicates we partner with groups who agree to make encouraging cards for children. All cards are designed to help the children take their mind off of their illness or most recent trauma.

There are several factors that led to the ‘one card at a time’ slogan. We know what you’re thinking, “we’ve heard that ‘one at a time’ phrase used so much. That’s not creative”. Here are some examples:

There are many quotes or themes using the phrase one _ at a time.  We believe that statement encompasses our overall message. Here’s why that quote fits us:
  • Keeping Track – As highlighted in a previous post, we tally the total amount of cards made by each participant, one at a time. Although “competition” is fun, we want to note who we need to thank and their contribution levels.
  • Room by Room Guarantee – Before we send cards to a hospital they must promise that all of the cards will be handed out room to room, one at a time. This ranges from being placed on their dinner tray to staff decorating the patients’ wall for their birthday. Based on this pledge, each individual card is important.
  • Large Impact – Currently, we’re simply providing the hospitals uplifting cards. While some may say, ‘you’re simply giving away decorated paper’, individuals who have seen the smiles on the recipients faces understand that it means SO much more. The family immediately feel special because this ‘One Card’ that was hand delivered was made just for them.
In summary, by participating and making one or more cards it’s clear that you’re a direct contributor in uplifting spirits, One Card at a Time.

#oneatatime #upliftingspirits

To see more pictures and stories please check out our Facebook page, or follow us on Twitter @cardzforkidz

Wednesday, October 9, 2013


Recently we finalized all the 501(c)(3) paperwork and want to  provide “performance” stats to potential donors. Although there are many financial characteristics and acronyms to measure success (i.e. NI, EBITDA, NPV, OC), we’re going to analyze our “performance” with digital statistics. And let’s be honest, two of the founders worked at digital agencies so these calculations come natural! J

All of these statistics are as of October 1, 2013.

  •   Cost Per Card (CPC): $0.35, although with our key expenses (i.e. shipping, 501(c)(3) application fees, art supplies) totaled well over $1,500, with your help we’ve been able to produce a total of 4,419 cards.
  • Cost Per Like (CPL): $3.87, with the total cost divided by the 425 fans on our Facebook page.
  • Q3 Cost Per 1,000 Impressions (CPM): $15.44, simply focused on the 49,442 page views on Facebook in Q3, with the total cost in Q3, $763.
  • Q3 Chat Thru Rate (CTR): 0.45%, 221 People talking about the page divided by the total page views of 49,442.

Return on Investment (ROI) calculations….
We tried to figure out who benefits the most, or gets the highest ROI from Cardz for Kidz!.

Our survey participants think the patients benefit the most from this process (survey results). That may be TRUE! Based on the BRIGHT smiles, it’s clear that the kids are AMAZED. They’re thankful the person coming in with a gown has an inspirational quote, rather than test equipment or medicine.

Then again, on the blog sparked by a DePaul Alumni event, we saw that one participant said, “It was so fun to make a card that would make a child feel like a rock star,” shares Colleen Moodie (CMN ’11). “Each card is one of a kind—just like the kids who received them.” Clearly participants have a HIGH ROI as well.

Families and Staff.
But while reviewing the quotes from the families and Child Life team, they’re receiving a significant return as well!! As you can see in this pic of a sibling and a participant, it’s clear that the entire family is having fun.

With those details its clear….. Cardz for Kidz! is a win, win, win, win….situation

Although we can distinctly calculate the overall costs associated with participating and running this organization, what’s most important, the overall RETURN of HAPPINESS, is IMMEASURABLE.

#returnoninvestment #immeasurable #returnofhappiness #upliftingspirits

To see more comments and learn about events check out our Facebook page, or follow us on Twitter @cardzforkidz

Monday, October 7, 2013

Safety First!

What’s the #1 reason that children are in the hospital?

Often we think of the tragedies that harm adults. Due to the incidence of adults that pass away from those, we expect there to be a similar correlation with children. To be honest, Cardz for Kidz! staff was under a similar assumption at first as well. During our 150+ hours volunteering at different pediatric hospitals we learned about several of the well-known floors. 

For example, while looking through the different floors at Lurie Children’s Hospital it’s clear that there are A LOT of reasons why kids are in the hospital:

§  14 – Neonatal Intensive Care Unit
§  15 – Cardiac Care Unit
§  16 – Pediatric Intensive Care Unit
§  17 & 18 – Cancer and Blood Disorders
§  19 – Acute Care, Neurological
§  20 – Acute Care, Post-Surgery and Post-Transplants
§  21st General Medical, Infectious Disease, Pulmonary, Allergy & Medical Observation Unit

While looking through third party research we learned that the #1 reason that most children pass away is through unintentional injuries. In addition, we learned that falling is actually one of the most frequent ways that kids are sent to the ER.

So although us here at Cardz for Kidz! understand that nobody’s perfect (not even our own moms!), but it’s important to be safe. There will never be a way for us to be able to avoid ALL “unintentional injuries”…..but we can AT LEAST TRY.

In summary, although we love giving out thousands of cards, our only request is that we ALL work together to prevent as many “avoidable” injuries as possible.

Through our research we found the following safety tips on the Center for Disease Control’s website:


  • Make sure infants sleep alone; placed on their backs on a firm surface.
  • Be sure crib meets safety standards.
  • Avoid loose bedding or soft toys in crib.


  • Keep medicines away from children and teens.
  • Keep cleaning solutions and other toxic products in original packaging and where children can't get them.

Motor Vehicle Crashes

  • Always use seat belts, child safety seats and booster seats that are correct for a child's age and weight.
  • Use safe-driving agreements or contracts with teens.


  • Learn to swim—important for parents and kids.
  • Use a four-sided fence with self-closing and self-latching gates around pool.
  • Watch kids closely when they swim.

  • Use smoke alarms—where people sleep and on every level of the home—and test monthly.
  • Create and practice a family fire escape plan.
  • Install a home fire sprinkler system if possible.


  • Use a soft landing surface on playgrounds (such as sand or wood chips, not dirt or grass).
  • Use protective gear, like a helmet, during sports and recreation.
  • Install protective rails on bunk beds and loft beds.

If you have any other recommendations on how to prevent common mishaps please let us know!! Although we love sending out cards, we’d love it if we had a lot less patients since folks focused on safety first!

#safetyfirst #upliftingspirits

To see more comments and learn about events check out our Facebook page, or follow us on Twitter @cardzforkidz

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Knock Knock!

We always make sure to give each hospital an array of cards, but one of the hospitals requested to receive more cards with jokes.  In order to accommodate their request, we asked people to make more funny cards.

Listed below are some jokes that we’ve received:
·         What lives in apples and is an avid reader?
·         What kind of materials do dinosaurs use for the floor of their homes?
·         What did the female dinosaur call her blouse making business?
·         What "bus" crossed the ocean?
·         What do you call a Blind Dinosaur?
·         Why did the nutty kid throw butter out of the window?
·         Why did the nutty kid throw a glass of water out of the window?
·         What happened when the Lion ate the comedian?

Here are clues to four of them – not in order:

If you know any of the answers please respond below....don't cheat! J

Since uplifting spirits is what we’re all about, we have to have fun with the families, right?!!  Here’s an example of what happens when we deliver this type of card.  We walk into the room and state:

“Sorry….but we have to perform a quick test…”
Everyone in the room gets a bit nervous and looks around.
 “Are you ready?”…..silence.

Then we tell the joke. The room lets out a sigh of relief and everyone begins to laugh even before we tell the punch line. Then after the family guesses or we give away the answer, we tell the patients to hold on to the card and give their nurse and doctor a “test”. It all ends with a smile on EVERYONE’S face…even the grandma who gave us the look of death when we walked in! J

Our KNOCK KNOCKs on the door are followed by a smile!

To see more pictures and stories please check out our Facebook page, or follow us on Twitter @cardzforkidz