Thursday, December 28, 2017

Flying Cape

We, at Cardz for Kidz!, were having a quick debate with a mutual friend about who is the all-time greatest superhero; said friend passionately argued that it was Superman/Clark Kent. But based on the movie collections of some of us, we’re leaning more towards one of the X-Men, like Professor Xavier.

However, Superman is a pretty good choice, especially for this blog post. With this we looked into Superman’s powers and we saw that they’re solar flare and heat vision, super longevity, solar invulnerability, strength and endurance, speed and reflexes, intelligence, senses and many more. With all those powers, we know that Superman can make a difference.

Now why did we mention all of this? Although we can’t call her “Clark Kent,” we now have our very own Superwoman: Sherry Green! As first listed in the Help Wanted blog post (OR if you check out the delivery by year section on our website), you’ll notice we’ve been growing recently. In that blog post, we asked for people to step up and help in a couple ways. One area we wanted more help with—the Advisory Board to get more vital input and responses when we send out our quarterly summaries.

Then another (and often more important) way, is we needed volunteers to help with some of the day-to-day work. That ranged from counting the thousands of cards to putting stickers on the back so the recipients know where they came from.

As you can see from the pictures below, Sherry stepped up and volunteered HOURS of time (behind the scenes) to simply do the grunt work. 

If that wasn’t enough, our superhero connected us with her sister, Jodi, who had her students design some of our blank cards and write Spanish phrases in them. Thanks to Jodi’s students, we were able to send cards to our children in Mexico City for the first time in over 6 months. AND: Sherry also brought a friend, Lex - who now volunteers, to the Pledge Allegiance card-making event, who ended up making one of the OVERALL Top 10 cards in Q3 2017!

OK, we understand there are some people who may still think, “That’s not enough.” We’re not quite sure how that couldn’t be, but maybe they’re thinking of Diane, who’s made of total of 917 cards—in both English and Spanish. We’ll be forever grateful. Or maybe they’re thinking of Shante, who started things at Huron Consulting Group and has helped Huron get offices across the country involved. That’s VERY impressive. But we must remind you, not only does Sherry help with the behind the scenes work that we mentioned above—counting the thousands of cards and placing stickers on them—she also stepped up when we weren’t able to get a hold of some of the top artists and attended the Cardz WITH Kidz event! As you can see in the following pictures, she made sure the children had a great time, doing all types of things ranging from making necklaces to playing Connect 4.

On top of that, she’s already proudly claiming loyalty to our organization on social media rather than simply stating it’s something she does on the side and volunteered at some events.

With all that in mind, there may be a debate as to who is the overall top superhero. You’ll have some people who favor DC Comics and others who favor Marvel. In our opinion, based on the tough spot we were in when we began to ask for help—and how Sherry stepped up, she’s definitely a superhero in our books. The only thing she’s missing is her FLYING CAPE because everything else is set!

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Perfection's Checklist

So, we’ve all heard the saying “Nobody’s Perfect.” Based on our recent experiences, we wanted to research that a bit more to find out if that’s true; we also wanted to make sure we understood the true meaning of the word “perfection.”

We’ve mentioned it a couple of times, but since some of the folks behind the scenes here at Cardz for Kidz! have experience and degrees in market research, we decided to do our best to perfectly research “perfection.” So, we did it all: qualitative, quantitative and then added on social data analysis. For this we held mini-focus groups (e.g., spoke to groups of people on the L and Amtrak trains & sent text messages to friends), put together a poll and, finally, searched on Twitter for "#perfection".

When we asked the focus groups, “When you think of the word ‘PERFECT,’ what’s the first thing that comes to mind?” the main responses were: “happiness,” “flawless,” “no such thing” and “God.” Next, we used those responses to create a poll and the top choice was “flawless.” Then when we looked on Twitter, we saw some of the main tweets were about cars, family, faith and the weather. With all that in mind, it’s interesting that “no such thing” didn’t win in any of the forums, but it did trend. We had to keep that in mind.

You may wonder why we were spending so much time researching this word. It’s because we were thinking a lot like the first sentence: “No group is perfect.” Don’t get us wrong, we’ve definitely expressed our gratitude—multiple times—for groups that have far exceeded our expectations. For example, we had to say something about how our “Secret Admirer”, the University of Michigan has made a big difference, and the Huron Consulting Group has been all around creative.

In terms of making cards, “perfect” for Cardz for Kidz! would look something like this:
  • Not focusing on whether or not we have hospitals/homes close to each potential location, but instead we could just focus on uplifting disheartened spirits no matter where they’re situated.
  • Strictly using cardstock rather than construction paper.
  • When a group makes over 30 cards, they will already select and mark their Top 10 in the sent package.
  • Taking pictures during the card-making event(s) and sending them to rather than the founder’s direct email address.
  • Making over 200 cards in a quarter.
  • Getting multiple offices/locations involved.
  • Allowing Cardz for Kidz! to put the group’s logo up on our website.
  • Shipping cards to the right addresses.
  • Passionately encouraging people to get involved.

We’ve now worked with over 150 groups; maybe there are a few who may be able to complete these requirements. Let’s add a couple more groups to make sure it’s absolutely impossible!
  • Even when we receive over 5,000 cards, making at least three (3) of the OVERALL Top 10 cards in a group’s first event.
  • Quickly responding to emails when you have questions regarding trying to locate the artists.
  • If there was a problem with the poll, having your IT team contact to help get it fixed.

Now while adding up the criteria it seems a bit challenging, but thanks to Sovos, in Q3 2017, we experienced it. Actually, they even topped that and had four (4) of the OVERALL Top 10 cards. Thankfully, they had multiple offices join in and within their first quarter of making cards produced a total of 251 cards!

We’re amazed! This group just started and immediately made an astonishing impact. Thankfully, based on the cards and pictures, it seemed like the feelings are mutual; it looks like there were a lot of smiles on all sides.

When we checked in with our main contact at Sovos, Ameerah, about how they selected Cardz for Kidz! here’s what she said:
      The decision to partner with Cardz for Kidz! was an easy decision for us. To align with our culture, and our Whole Living Program, we were in pursuit of an organization that had a strong vision of giving back to the community, and allowed us to really leverage our global reach. Cardz for Kidz! was an easy selection for us as we are able to contribute cards in multiple languages, as well as allow our employees to flex their creativity and connect with the organization to brighten a child’s day.

Now, we’re hoping at least one person from Sovos will be able to represent their company when it’s time to hold the next Cardz WITH Kidz event! That wasn’t even on the list, but it would (once again) exceed our expectations and go beyond what we originally thought was impossible to achieve—marking off everything on PERFECTION’S CHECKLIST. We know we’ve been spoiled by Sovos—and we hope they will continue to host more events and take even more pictures like the ones below.

#perfectionchecklist #upliftingspirits

p.s. let's add one more-

  • Consistently hosting events. - the blog post was sparked by their contributions in Q3, but so far they've already made 170+ cards in Q4 as well! 
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, December 14, 2017

Your Full Impact

We give up. We just can’t do it. There’s no way. We’re sorry!

We bet you’re wondering, “What in the world are they talking about?!” Well, there’s simply no way for us to express how you’re truly uplifting spirits, but we PROMISE we’re trying!
You see, we have been trying to ensure that at least 3 of the top artists and/or special groups get to come to the Cardz WITH Kidz event, but that doesn’t mean every child is able to participate. At these events, people have the opportunity to hand deliver their cards to patients and see the kids light up when they meet the artist and receive homemade artwork. And while that’s beneficial and uplifting, some of the kids are actually stuck in their rooms due to their conditions. Based on hospital regulations, only trained volunteers are allowed to go bedside, so we can’t take people up there. For example, during the last Cardz WITH Kidz event, we had a trained volunteer go up and recruit kids to come down and connect with artists. Sadly, one patient was immobilized and could not leave her room. To boost her spirits, two artists made sure to make a card for her before things got too hectic downstairs. After the event, the volunteer went and dropped it off. While those artists were able to experience the little kids down in the playroom dropping to the floor when they got their custom cards, they didn’t get to see the patient and family smiling brightly when they received the card with her name on it.

It’s against the rules. We’re sorry.

Even after starting an album on Facebook which included pictures of the kids who weren’t able to go to the event, it still didn’t truly express their gratitude. You can TELL the kids love your cards, but a picture simply isn’t enough. There’s the whole saying about how a picture tells a thousand words, but what about an experience? What about actually seeing the kids get all giddy when receiving your cards? We were so excited when we started to actually see families post these reactions on Instagram (Video 1, Video 2, Video 3), but still that’s still a rare occurrence.

As we noted in the We’re Thankful post, we’re constantly trying to show you when the hospitals send their thanks. We even started a separate album on our Facebook page for those exact pictures. Even so, it’s been hard to keep up because we get so many emails and/or texts to post them.
The hospital staff absolutely love reading your cards and it brightens their spirits, too! A direct quote:  
“Seeing how this gift can touch children of all ages, both each day and over time, will certainly bring SMILES and LAUGHTER to those that need more of that in their lives and to those of us who witness and help them each day. And I hope you know how the cardz that you send each quarter brighten both the children’s time spent here and staff - I confess I love looking at them before I pass them along! Thank you, thank you, thank you!”
With all that being said, we don’t think you will ever fully understand the difference you and your cards are making. Thankfully, you’ve brought entire families to tears of joy during their most trying times. Although some people may think of making homemade cards as a fun activity, they’re missing the deeper point. They’re reaching people who are going through very difficult times. So, in summary, we promise we’ll keep trying to write blog posts, take pictures, quote families, and things like that, but at the end of the day we can’t really put into words a way to help you understand YOUR FULL IMPACT on kids and their families when they need it the most.
Please keep up the good work! You’re doing an amazing job!

#yourfullimpact #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, December 7, 2017

Universally Bringing Smiles

OK this first portion of the blog post was sparked by some increased time with young nieces and nephews around the holidays. After working on the ABCs, if you look on our participants tab you’ll notice some kids really could get some good practice with their letters! There are several acronyms on there and unfortunately, we don’t know what they all stand for. Here are some examples:
·         KKR
·         DKG
·         AADL
·         SAA
·         PHD
·         CIMA
·         USG
·         LFC
·         USG
·         PLS
·         AAFCS
·         UBS

Now some of those they clearly list what they stand for in the logo or on the website. For example, AADL = Ann Arbor District Library. OR CIMA = Chicago Interactive Marketing Association, then finally AAFCS = American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences.

One we weren’t quite sure of was UBS. We had an idea, but we weren’t 100% sure. Before reaching out to, we decided to put our idea to the test and asked a couple people at the airport if they heard of UBS and what did it stand for. Here were some of the responses we got:

·         Polite Wife, “Union Bank of something, but didn’t it change….”, Kind Husband, “No no no, it’s United Bank of Switzerland.”  Then she spent a couple minutes explaining why he knows stuff like that! 😊
·         Nice Young Man, “UBS….no I don’t think so.”
·         Helpful Young Lady, “United Bottled Service”?
·         Nice lady, “United Banking……uhh I don’t know…something”

OK so after the Kind Husband’s comments and the confirmation from Wikipedia we agree that those letters may have originally been aligned and unified with the country known for banking. While that was the original acronym, they made it seem like it didn’t stand for those letters anymore. Based on our experience, we think it should be a bit different and let’s explain why!

First, we’ve talked about it a couple times when we posted pictures and in a prior blog post, but our first contact with UBS started with a few locations in the southwest. They were a dream come true. They told us they simply wanted to uplift spirits, no matter where the children lived. They didn’t require delivery locations in their area, but it just so happens that we are now partnering with Maricopa Integrated Health System in Phoenix and another hospital in Nevada.
Staff at MIHS posing with some cards!

In addition, they’ve been sending the cards correctly. If you look at this shipment you’ll see just how helpful they were. They marked which ones were part of the Top 10, the ones in Spanish and made a BUNCH of cards!

If that wasn’t enough, we heard that some of their locations were donating some funds from their “wear jeans to work day” to us with UBS was matching those donations.

Recently, another online note indicated they made a significant donation.  We asked our main contact if we could donate a GoKart in their name and she agreed. Thankfully, based on UBS’s contributions they’re making our short term and midterm dreams come true!  Originally, when we found out how much their offices in the southwest were doing we asked our main point-of-contact, Peggy, to take a bow since we were giving her a standing ovation (see below).

Now that it’s spread, we’ll need even more people to bow because we’re still clapping!

In summary, the way we see it, it may not officially be an acronym anymore, but we know what it means to us. This group has eased the process in helping us reach kids across the globe, they’ve helped raise funds to purchase systems for kids/thank hospitals for their participation, they’ve made over 1,000 cards, and so much more! So they’ve helped us, the kids, and the hospitals. Therefore, we can say, UBS is UNIVERSALLY BRINGING SMILES to all parts of Cardz for Kidz!; our volunteers, as well as the kids/families we reach. We told you a couple times before, they’re a dream come true!

#universerallybringingsmiles #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, November 30, 2017

Now is the Time

Based on what happened last year, Q4 2016, we’re going to consistently place reminders on social media, reach out to our contacts, and are writing this blog post in order to prevent that situation from happening again. First, let’s start on a positive note. THANK YOU! We’ve already started receiving some Christmas cards. These are from people who are not waiting until the last minute! And so far, we only received one set of holiday cards after Halloween or Thanksgiving. Please keep up the good work.
Now here’s the other side. In our blog post, Best Nightmare, we wrote about how we got a BUNCH of holiday cards, specifically Christmas cards, either right before Christmas or even after the holiday. As noted in that post, receiving cards is ALWAYS a GREAT thing; however, the timing was less than ideal. Therefore, our goal this year is to get everyone to send ALL of their holiday-specific cards at least three (3) weeks before the actual holiday. If you’re hosting an event in mid-December, it’ll be tough, but just encourage everyone to write non-seasonal and/or “Happy New Year” themed cards.

As highlighted in the prior post, our founder went around on Christmas Day and delivered holiday cards to some shelters in the Atlanta area. That worked out since he was living with family and the cards were shipped to that location. The tough part is our mailing address is now in Chicago, so cards that we don’t receive well before the holidays won’t be received until after the holidays.

But we understand that it’s definitely much more fun to make cards while everyone’s in the holiday spirit! In the past we highlighted how Today’s Special. And today, we’re just stressing to all the groups who are considering making cards this quarter that NOW’S THE TIME to make the cards rather than waiting until mid-December. We—more importantly, the children— definitely appreciate your help!

#nowisthetime #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, November 16, 2017

Families, Too

Similar to the Purple Pride blog post, this one is going to be in first person by yours truly, Ike, or better known as the founder of Cardz for Kidz!. I know it’s not normal, but I really, really need to explain why I’m breaking SOOO many rules! Just as I am with all the other blog posts, I must be 100% open and honest. The overall point of this post is to explain why we’ve sent cards to Ronald McDonald Houses (RMHs) across the globe and how 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, allow me to explain a bit further. First, as we’ve been growing, I’ve been reaching out to new hospitals and shelters - and thankfully we’ve connected with a bunch. I even got in touch with a couple of 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, and 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 at the time. 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 House Charities for all they do for families—since that has a significant impact on the patients as well.

Selfishly, the toughest part of everything (for me) was thinking of how my surgery impacted my family. With that in mind, I’d LOVE to be able to help send more than enough cards to these RMH locations for not only the children who are patients, but also for their siblings and parents. That way everyone can receive encouraging attention during this 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, but 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. Because of this, we’ll continue to reach out and send cards to different Ronald McDonald House Charities 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 this tough situation.

When I wrote the mission statement for Cardz for Kidz! I strictly listed: “hospitalized and/or traumatized children,” but 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.

We sent over 700 cards to RMHs in Q3 and we'll try to send over 1000 in Q4! 

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!