Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Hospital Activity Kit for Sweet Brewer

Today I want to share a story about my good friend. Jerai and I were college roommates our first year at BYU-I. I went to school knowing NO one and although I was ready for this new adventure I prayed I would find friends and have happy experiences. I am so thankful that God put Jerai in my life. She and I had so much in common as 18 year olds and we instantly connected. Fast forward 13+ years and now we have families of our own and live in different states but have continued to stay in touch. I've watched her go through SO much hardship and pain. She's been given so many trials and my heart hurts for what she has gone through. Why can one person/one family be given so many hardships and have to deal with so much? But Jerai doesn't complain. She just pushes forward and puts everyone else before her. She fights for her family and her happiness. Please join with me to help her family in any way you can. Donate money, help us with a hospital fun kit for Brewer, support and spread awareness of heart disease, and/or share this story. I know that as we support each other in our hardships, we can lighten their load, and comfort this beautiful family!



Brewer was born 2/26/2012, 13 days early. 12 hours after he was born, he was life flighted to Primary Children's in Salt Lake to undergo more testing to figure out the extent of an undiagnosed heart defect. 24 hours later we were informed that he had a very severe heart defect known as Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome. Our choice was to take him home and let him live the few weeks his heart would allow or to start down a road full of open heart surgeries and eventually a heart transplant. They told us that the journey would be difficult, but that didn't really mater. We knew Brewer was strong and would fight, and we were going to fight for him too. He had his first open heart surgery, the damus, at 3 days old. After about 3 weeks we were able to bring him home. Caring for him for the next 4 months was eye opening. I had never done anything to hard. His demands took a toll us on physically, mentally, and spiritually, as well as financially. But there were moments of joy and happiness in between. In July of 2012, when Brewer was 5 months old, he had his second open heart surgery, the Glenn. He did well and after about 10 days were on our way home again. Since then he has done extremely well and thrived. He has exceeded the norm in many instances and even though he runs off of about 80% oxygenated blood, keeps up with his brother. He his our joy and anyone who meets him knows immediately what a special kid he is.
 

After Brewer's Glenn surgery we have been adjusting to our knew normal and life has been quite enjoyable. We have been able to have our kids at our windshield shop while we work during the day and we take them out into nature as much as possible in any spare time. We love to camp, mountain bike, dirt bike, fish, paddle board, float the river, go to the park, ski and spend time in Grand Teton National Park. Life really couldn't be any better with our little family.


At the beginning of this year we planned one last trip with the kids before our shop got too busy and before our newest addition, a little girl, would arrive in October. We planned to go to Moab, UT and camp for a few days; let the kids play in the sand, the big boys would do some dirt bike rides and we would all enjoy the warm sun. Unfortunately on that trip, my husband, Phil was in a horrible dirt bike accident. He fell 125 feet off a cliff while riding and it has been miracle after miracle that he survived. He broke his pelvis in 6 places, broke both legs, his ribs, the lower lumbar in his back and separated his shoulder, not to mentioned some other less serious bruises. We are so grateful that he gets another chance and that we still get a father and a husband.



He has undergone 13 surgeries and procedures under anesthesia, and spent 4 weeks in the hospital, plus other little stays as well. The recovery process has been long and hard, but I'm so proud of him for fighting and working hard every day to battle through the pain and build his strength back. We have been overwhelmed by the support and love from all of our family and friends and even from people that we have never met. It truly has been from everyone else's care for us that we have made it this far




































As Phil continues to recover and as October approaches we are preparing for Brewer's third open heart surgery, which has been rescheduled for the 4th time this year to August 25th. We are anxious and nervous to go through that with him, but in a way we are looking forward to getting that surgery behind us.




































How can I help? You might ask... here are some ways you can help!



Buy a Brew Crew shirt to help spread awareness and support their family.
Go HERE to purchase shirts.
Donate directly to their family
HERE
Donate to Sending Smiles so we can get a hospital kit together for Brewer's surgery in August using the PayPal button below.
Make or send an item to add to his hospital kit!
Feel free to comment if you can help or message me directly: kirsti.clark@gmail.com

Thank you so much for helping this special family!! I know they will appreciate any help & support we can give them!
You can follow their family adventures HERE

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Operation Secret Santa

Feeling seriously blessed and happy to pay it forward today as we just transferred $100 each to 2 different special families in need from our Sending Smiles account!! Our Christmas project this year was to be Secret Santa to a couple of moms in need of extra money, love and compassion. We are SO thankful for the donations from this project AND the past donations we've received, because we did use some of our previous balance 
Two years ago on December 22, I went to wrap our Santa presents that we bought the day after Thanksgiving (on MAJOR sale- because we were super poor!) and they were GONE. I was hiding them in my parent's garage and all I can think that happened, is that they were donated to Toys for Tots with our church's big service project that year!
Of course I was devastated and had no idea how we were going to find the same gifts and pay for them again, at full cost. We found ways to laugh about it- my husband said, "usually we donate toys AFTER the kids play with them" but inside we were heartbroken. We went to 2 different Toys R Us stores, and 2 Targets that night and luckily found similar replacements for what the boys had asked for. We got home from this ordeal to find a tub of money on our front porch. Coins, small dollars, large dollars... it looked like multiple people came together to raise money for us. {This STILL brings me to tears when I tell this story!} I counted the money and it was to the DOLLAR the exact amount we had spent that night. I will never forget how much I felt my Savior's love for me, in this little Christmas miracle. It wasn't that big of a deal- just toys & money. But I knew the Lord heard our prayers for help and sent someone who was listening to our aid.
This year we have elves bringing us presents each day and it has brought us so much joy! THIS is what Christmas is all about. Spreading kindness, giving service, sharing LOVE, just like Christ did. 
MERRY CHRISTMAS!!
Thank you SO Much for all of you that donated for our Operation Secret Santa!! I know we made 2 families feel very special and loved with some extra spending money for their family!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Brett & Heather Robison Auction Thank You!!!

We wanted to send out a great big THANK YOU to all of those that donated and placed a bid on the auction for Brett and Heather Robison. We were able to donate $200 to their fund. More importantly the Robisons announced just last fall that they are expecting TWINS in April 2015. Whoot-Whoot! 

We are tremendously excited for them and can't wait for them to experience this new journey together.

CONGRATULATIONS BRETT & HEATHER!

Thank you all for always being so supportive of Sending Smiles!!!  




Sunday, May 25, 2014

The Robison Family


Please meet Heather and Brett Robison! They are a remarkably amazing couple that are currently in need of our help and smiles. Heather and Brett have been married for 13 years. During that time they have had to experience the often heartbreaking journey of infertility. Despite their many efforts of trying to expand upon their family circle, nothing has come to fruition thus far. This is where we can help! Heather and Brett  are candidates for  IVF, or in vitro fertilization. The average cost of one cycle of IVF is $12,000- $14,000. The clinic they have chosen offers a 100% money back guarantee plan. They would need to pay around $25,000 up front to cover up to 4 cycles of IVF. If those four cycles do not give them a live birth, they'll be given their money back and they can use it towards adoption with multiple agencies and quicker placement rates. They are currently on an adoption list. You may view their profile here: It's About Love They've had a few contacts with birth mothers, but unfortunately, nothing has been a perfect fit. Whether parenthood comes to them through IVF or adoption, let’s send some financial support their way!

We will be hosting an online Auction!! 100% of the proceeds will be given to the Robison family. We are looking for anything you can offer! Are you crafty? Do you own a business? Fantastic! You can help!!!
Here's the information on how to participate:
1)   Send an email to SmilesForStrangers@gmail.com with the following information. Please post AUCTION as the subject.
2)  Title of item donating
3)  Short description (optional)
4)  Picture of item
5)  Approximate Retail Value
6)  Web Address or Link to Etsy Store or Blog Boutique if you have one. (Note: This is a great way to receive free publicity!)
**You will be responsible for postage to send the item to the highest bidder. If you prefer to ship through the United States only please indicate so with your item description. After payment has been made we will contact you with their address when the auction ends.
Dates: Emails must be sent by Monday, June 9th at midnight. This gives you 2 weeks to create or gather item(s).

Auction will begin Thursday, June 12th and end Saturday, June 14th at midnight. Thank you in advance to all who choose to participate! Definitely check back June 12th to start shopping! Invite your friends and family to participate as well. Feel free to blog, facebook, instagram, tweet (send a carrier pigeon) anything to get the word out!  I know this couple will make AMAZING parents. The least we can do is lighten the financial burden a bit so they can simply focus on the journey to attain the deepest desire of their heart…
Becoming A Parent!!!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Activity Packets for Children in the Hospital

Well, it's been a long time since our last Sending Smiles Project, but we are back and have something very exciting just in time for Christmas! Last week I had an "aha" moment as I was at home with sick kids and desperately trying to keep them busy in the house. They were too sick to go outside and play but not so much that they would just hold still and leave me alone, ha! I raided our craft cabinets for crayons and coloring books and they spent hours coloring, writing letters and playing with play-doh. That's when it hit me. IF I were a mom with a child in the hospital, how wonderful would it be to have some activity packs already put together for my sick child and their siblings and visitor friends.

I've seen too many posts on facebook of little children who are struggling with cancer or other terminal illnesses lately. One child that is sick in the hospital is too many. So this Christmas Season, we wanted to send some activity packets to the hospital to give out to the children. I wanted to start out by helping this beautiful family from Texas:

Their 11 year old daughter, Emma was born with a very rare genetic disorder called Fanconi Anemia (FA). It causes bone marrow failure and different types of cancers, often including leukemia. She's had bone marrow biopsies to find a match and recently had a bone marrow transplant, lots of blood transfusions and chemotherapy. She is fighting for her life and we would LOVE to send her some smiles!!


You can follow Emma's family on Facebook: Our Little Taste of Heaven



So right now we are taking donations for these activity packs that we have put together and will be sending to children's hospitals around the country! 

Each activity pack contains: A Character Play Pack (which includes a coloring book, crayons, and stickers), 4 Pack of Playdoh, Pencil, Hot Wheels Car (for the boys) and a Necklace (for the girls), a Lollipop and a pack of Holiday Stationary Cards & Envelopes! The idea with the cards & envelopes is that each child can color a picture and write a message to someone who has brightened their day; Maybe a doctor, or nurse, or someone who came to visit them! A $9 donation would make 2 Activity Packs!!



We are also teaming up with the Ronald McDonald House in Loma Linda, CA to donate new, unwrapped gifts for the patients there. They are also hoping for pajamas. socks or slippers of any size (Families are usually sent there with only the clothes they have on their back!!) I saw these Dream Lites at Target, normally $30 on sale for $15-- so I thought these would be super fun for someone to play with in their hospital bed and see the images projected on the walls or bed sheets! If you wish to donate to the toy or clothing drive for Ronald McDonald house, please indicate what you'd like your donation to go towards! (click on "add special instructions" in the paypal options)


At this time of the year, I know money can be tight. I know we have been saving all year for our family's gifts. But I just have to think about how blessed I am to have all of my children, safe and healthy. I can't imagine what it would be like to have a child with a terminal illness, or to spend the holidays in the hospital. I know that this project will spread smiles across the country and so happy to be a part of this great organization!!
                                                                
100% of Donations will be used to create Activity Packets or Ronald McDonald House Gifts. Please let us know if you have a preference for which project which items your money goes towards! 

Monday, November 7, 2011

Drawing From the Heart: Fighting FOP with Addi

This next Smile is dear to my heart, Shannon and Daren Black were our college buddies years ago. Their beautiful daughter, Addi was just diagnosed with FOP (Fibrodysplasia Ossificans Progressiva), a rare genetic condition where bone is formed in muscles, ligaments, tendons, and other connective tissue. There is no effective treatment or surgery options, which is why research to discover a cure is so important!

Our sweet Addi is only 21 months old and this disease will eventually destroy her body if we don't find a cure. The IFOPA is really close to finding a cure and all proceeds from the raffle will go toward funding research and finding a cure for FOP. You can watch this video to find out more about the devastating symptoms and what they are doing to find a cure.

Go HERE to find out details about the Drawing From the Heart- you donate any dollar amount that you feel you can share before midnight on November 19, and recieve a raffle ticket for the chance to win one of many prizes! I'm not biased or anything but I'm very excited about a few of these prizes!
Christine has kindly donated a handmade doll or panda from her Chrisy Lee Creations line. Her dolls are exquisitely gorgeous and beautifully handmade! And I have donated $30 to Kirstikoo- good for any handmade gift, superhero costume set or baby items you see in my shop. There are jewelry, vinyl and other handmade items also being raffled off! Go check it out and donate as much as you find you can share from your heart.

Please remember that even little donations are important. Over 75% of FOP research is funded through friends and family of FOP patients like Addi. YOU are critical to finding a cure for this sweet girl. Also, if you have any items that you would like to donate to the drawing, let us know!!

Also, because NOVEMBER is the month that we celebrate being THANKFUL, we have 2 more Smile Projects coming very soon. I am thankful for my healthy family and children, which is why I am so excited to donate to this great cause. President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Second Counselor in the First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, said: "Whether we are rich or poor, regardless of where we live on this glove, we all need each other, for it is in sacrificing our time talents, and resources that our spirits mature and become refined."

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Dear Sending Smiles: (a letter from the Mack Family)

I received a very special letter in the mail today and just had to share it with all of you. To our readers and supporters: Thank you so much for your kindness & service!!

Dear Sending Smiles,
Thank you very much for your thoughtfulness of me and my family. Every gift was thought out with them in mind and very heartfelt and it was very clear. As I opened the box my kids were so excited for each and every gift (but they do have their favorites as well!) I look forward to using more of the recipes as well... that has been a little learning curve for me but these will be great, thank you for taking the time to put that and all of it together. These pictures are just my way of showing my kids gratitude as well.
Thank you again,
-Denny, Dallin, Kenny, & Evan Mack
"To give real service you must add something which cannot be bought or measured with money, and that is sincerity and integrity"
-Douglas Adams

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Smiles for the MACK family PACKAGE!!

THANK YOU so much to all those that donated their time, talents and/or funds for this project. Christine and I are so pleased with the outcome and we both noticed the Lord's hand in helping everything come along. We were pushed away from some ideas and towards others and feel like we were able to send them exactly what they needed to help them create more beautiful memories. We received 2 donations in the last few days before we sent the package and received the money needed to finish one project and pay for postage. THANK YOU!

THANK YOU to Mindy S. for nominating the Mack family, as she put it, a family needing smiles to help them cope with their loss and to be reminded that there are brighter days ahead. Our prayer is that our package will do just that!
For Evan & Dallin we made their very own personalized superhero capes and masks and Kenna will receive this beautiful handmade doll with dresses, skirts and her very own doll blanket. Seriously, how cute is she?
Sports, superhero and car themed activities for the boys, princess and butterfly stuff for Kenna, and lots of learning workbooks and flashcards and games they can do together as a family.
A close-up of their personalized church/quiet activity bags jam-packed with crayons, stickers, notebooks, markers, and other quiet activities.
And for the leader of the pack, dress shirts and jackets for Daddy along with a gift card and recipe book for easy meals.
Once again, Thanks so much to all those who helped make this possible. Without each of your thoughtfulness, we wouldn't be able to do this. Our next family in need will be spotlighted soon!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Sending Smiles To MACK Family Update...

Since it has been a such busy summer, Kirsti and I felt it would be wise to extend the deadline for the Mack Family Sending Smile. The new deadline for this smile is

Tuesday, August 23rd. For more details you can visit HERE.


We would like to thank those that have contributed thus far. We do however still need someone to send a few special items to two year old Evan. We would also like to put together Family Home Evening packets for the Mack family to enjoy. If you are interested in helping please leave a comment or send us an email. Any and every little bit helps and is very much appreciated!



We hope all of you are enjoying these last few weeks of summer!!!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

A Smile For The MACK Family

(Photo from Mack's Family Blog, OUR FAMILY - GREETINGS Y'ALL)



A few short months ago an amazing woman, Wendy Mack, sadly passed away very unexpectedly. She left behind her sweet husband and their three adorable children . Wendy was also only six weeks from delivering their forth child, precious baby girl Maylee, of whom also passed on a few days after her mother.



I Vote That We Send The Mack Family A Much Needed Smile!



Kirsti and I believe that sending a few thoughtful care items/packages would be absolutely wonderful. Will you please join us?!? Here is a little information on this remarkable family...


The eldest son, DALLIN is six years old. Like most boys his age, he loves super heroes, video games, baseball and soccer. According to one family friend, he is "ALL BOY"!

Next is four year old KENNA. She is very sweet and likes all things princess! She likes to play with dolls and barbies. She also loves to play dress-up!

Two year old, EVAN, is at the age where everything is fun! He does have a special like for cars and trucks though. As I have learned from my own little boy, one can never have too many cars and trucks!

Leader of the troop is their beloved father DENNY. He just started his own practice so he is one incredibly busy man. He could benefit from gift cards, especially to electronic stores. We are told he also needs nice casual shirts in a size large. If you can, please include a gift receipt for the shirts!! After taking a peek at their blog, I have discovered that Denny likes to make his children their birthday cakes- GO DAD!! Since his sweetheart was a nurse and worked many late shifts, he is no stranger to the stove. Perhaps, however, we can send a few new yummy recipes to try. EASY and QUICK are the keywords though! It may also help to know that the family are members of The Church Of Jesus Christ Of Latter-Day Saints.


If you are interested in sending a smile and would like further details, please leave a comment or send an email to SmilesForStrangers@gmail.com. Items need to be shipped to Kirsti Clark no latter than Saturday, July 23rd. She will be sure to snap a picture of all of the items and post an update. She will then make sure the items are received by the Mack family.


Please be sure to pass on the word to everyone you know. As I always say, "One can never have too many smiles"!


In advance we would like to shout out a giant THANK YOU to all of you as well!!!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Special Angels Adoption Fundraiser

Don't forget to shop this weekend at the Special Angels Adoption Online Auction Fundraiser!!
Go HERE to shop until Wednesday and have a fabulous weekend!!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Sending Smiles To Special Angels Adoption

Adoption. Whenever I hear this word my heart automatically overflows with complete and absolute bliss. I've never experienced this blessing first hand, but some of my most near and dear friends have adopted or are in the works to becoming adoptive parents. There is just something miraculous about seeing parents joined with a child through the beauty of adoption. Whenever I witness this sacred event I automatically sense that those individuals were always meant to be together...they just needed to take a unique journey to find each other.
As one may know, however, the journey of adoption doesn't always lead one down a smooth and carefree path. There's often bumps and barriers that can cause headaches....and heartaches. It's not always an easy voyage but as one may tell you, the hardships are always worth it once that precious child is finally in their arms.

Yep I just love, love, (that's capital L-O-V-E) love adoption!!! I also love those that set their sights on helping others adopt, just like our newest Sending Smiles nominee, Kelly Grove of Special Angels Adoption. She is a wonderful woman who, for the past three years, has been able to help special needs little ones find their forever families. Up until this point, her ministry has been able to help unite families for no monetary gain. With the new website and application for a non-profit status, however, Kelly and her ministry need our help.

On Saturday, June 4th, Kelly will be hosting an online auction. She currently needs items to be donated for that event. Crafts, gift certificates and business services are all welcome.

All items and such need to be mailed and received before June 4th.

Items can be mailed to:

Special Angels Adoption

695 N 2475 W

Layton, Utah

84041

There are other ways we can help as well...

**A donation button is on her new website if you would like to make monetary donations. That link can be found here: Special Angels Adoption.

**Attend the online auction on June 4th. Details will be on her website the day of on how to participate and bid the desired items. I believe the auction starts on 9:00 am and will run until 12:00 pm. I do know there are going to be a lot of fabulous things. I for one can hardly wait!

**Pass on the word! Blog, email, facebook, twitter and such to all of your friends. Let them know how they can help as well. The more that participate the merrier!


I know time is short but I believe we can still do a lot to help Kelly with her goal. I hope you will join Kirsti and I in this latest Sending Smiles endeavor. We are so excited about it and can't wait to see what you girl's come up with! Be sure to let us know how you are helping. If you can, take pictures of your donated auction items and email the images to SmilesForStrangers@gmail.com

We'll be sure to post the picture along with your name on the next Sending Smile update!

Until then... Happy Auctioning!!!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Smiles for Ashlee pictures

Here are a few photos of the package we sent to Ashlee!



Thanks so much to everyone who was involved in this project! Remember we are always taking nominations for Sending Smiles projects, our next project is coming soon and will be one that everyone can be involved with in some way!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Smiles for Ashlee Update!

Wow, can I just say how amazed I am?!! I don't know Ashlee or her family personally, but I can tell she is an amazing person. The outpouring of donations and help we have received so far is blowing me away. And most people have commented that they know or knew Ashlee or Emmett and what wonderful people they are. Over $300 in donations, and care packages from 11 people, will most definitely put a smile on her face!
We will be sending our items out on April 20, so if there's anyone who would still like to help, you can donate at any time to help with a spa gift certificate. Or send a few quiet activities that we can add to the homemade church bags we are putting together. We are also compiling some quick easy recipes-- if you have one, email us and we can add to it!
Thanks again for all the help so many of you have provided- I know we will act as angels in the life of this family!!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Smiles For Ashlee

This Beautiful Family could use our help!
It's been almost 2 weeks since their father was killed in a tragic shooting. Let's send care packages to cheer up each member of the family.

Bailey & Bostyn (twin girls almost 6 years old) They love art, anything princess and dress up
Teage (4 year old boy) loves cars, action figres and baseball stuff.
Kaleeya (2 in July) loves purses, music and princess stuff.
Tytus (9 week old baby- not pictured) would probably love a new blanket or lovie to cuddle.
Ashlee (Momma): loves chick flicks, church books/cds (LDS), lip gloss, home decor, gift cards and chocolate.
We would love to have 5 or 6 people volunteer to help.
If each of us takes one person in the family, we could send an amazing care package that will remind this family there are so many people
who know them & love them or
who don't & are rooting for them.

Please comment or send us an email (SmilesForStrangers@gmail.com) and let me know what you would like to include in a package. We will all send them to a neutral home that will pack everything up and send it all in one massive care package. You can also donate by clicking on the paypal button, at the top left of the sidebar. Donations will be sent to the Emmett Corrigan Memorial Fund. We would also like to give a gift certificate to a Day Spa so Ashlee can enjoy some relaxation during the healing process.
Thank you so much for your support!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Remembering Ryan




"We held you in our arms for a short time, but we hold you in our hearts forever. For nine months we anticipated your arrival and your newborn cry. For the rest of our lives, we will anticipate your laughter in heaven. We miss you so very much, but we have joy in knowing that we will see you again one day!

My wish is that every parent gets to take home a blanket that was made for their baby to keep forever. "
--Julie Lewis





On Friday, March 7, 2003, I was heading out for the day with my 2 year old. We had plans of shopping a little and preparing for the delivery of our new baby. I was not feeling so well that day, but headed out anyway. I was 39 weeks pregnant with an extremely active baby...boy or girl? We didn't know just yet.

That particular morning, the baby was slow moving. I didn't think too much about it and went on shopping anyways. While in the first store, my 2 year old touched my belly and said "NO"...that was very strange to me. We went about our business and headed home.

I noticed on the way home that the baby wasn't moving. This concerned me a little, but I went ahead and tried to eat something and drink water. My 2 year old went down for a nap. The baby still wasn't moving, so I called the doctor and they told me to head on into the office. At this point, I had to find someone to come stay with Jackson while he was napping. After about 45 minutes, my youngest brother came to stay at our house and I met my mom for her to drive me. My husband was in meetings and I couldn't get in touch with him, so I left him a message telling him where I was going.

My mom and I got to the office and they immediately took me back to check on the baby. The nurse put the baby monitor on my belly and there was no noise. She immediately took it off and went to get the doctor. (My regular doctor was out of town) The doctor came in, turned on the ultra sound machine and went to work.

At that moment, I heard the words that every mother fears the most: "I'm sorry, I don't have good news". I was totally heart broken. I knew what that meant, my baby had died before I even got to meet him or her. My mom was in the room with me and came over to hold me. I think 2 seconds later, my husband walked in the room to find out the bad news.

To make a long story a tad shorter, we went home to pack bags, get Jackson situated and head to the hospital to deliver the precious baby. Two of our pastors beat us to our house and were waiting on us to pray with us and help in any way that they could. They were wonderful! Then, once we got into a room and I got situated, more friends and family were gathering in the waiting room ready to lend their support.

Early the next morning, March 8th, Ryan Thomas Lewis was stillborn. He was beautiful and perfect, 7 lbs and 6 oz and was 21 1/4 inches long. He died because of a cord accident.

Yes, this story is very sad, but God had a plan and I can look back and see some of that plan. Oh how I wish Ryan were here, but I have 2 other precious children who may not be here otherwise. McKinsey Ryan was born exactly one year later on Ryan's due date. Jonathan Carter came into this world 2 years after McKinsey.

Our family is complete and we look forward to the day that we get to meet Ryan in heaven.

I kept a journal for the next year after Ryan's death. Looking back on it, I am so glad that I did. You see, a very dear friend of mine lost her first daughter at 40 weeks. She too, was stillborn. My husband and I walked that path with them and learned a lot from them. They were at our side immediately when we found out about Ryan. She suggested that I keep a journal and "look" for God's blessings, even when I don't want to. Well, I did that and am so glad that I did.

Here is something that I wrote on April 20, 2003: We held you in our arms for a short time, but we hold you in our hearts forever. For nine months we anticipated your arrival and your newborn cry. For the rest of our lives, we will anticipate your laughter in heaven. We miss you so very much, but we have joy in knowing that we will see you again one day!

As you rest in the arms of Jesus, so do we.

I tell you my story to ask for your help. While I was in the hospital, the nurses took precious photos of Ryan with items that were donated to give to grieving parents. We left the hospital with photos of him, a blanket that was made for him, stuffed animal, baby ring and lots of other items to help us remember him.

After going through my experience, I learned that the perinatal loss department runs out of donations for parents. They keep whatever they can on hand. That weekend, they ran out of memory boxes. I took my baby's things home in a ziploc bag. They nurses were so sorry that they had to send them home that way, but didn't have a choice. My wish is that every parent gets to take home a blanket that was made for their baby to keep forever.


If you would like to help with our Remembering Ryan Project, please send a handmade or store bought flannel blanket, measuring about 24X24 to
attn: Remembering Ryan
1042 Lanford Circle
Lilburn, GA 30047

Every single blanket makes a difference. Just think about the one family that will wrap their stillborn baby in it. We would also like to share more stories of angel babies. If you have a story you would like to share with us during this project, please comment or email smilesforstrangers@gmail.com.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Smiles For Tammy {package sent!!}

Here's what we sent to Tammy's Family:
We did a special box full of snacks for each of the sisters that would be perfect to keep at the hospital during their visits with Tammy. The girls also got nail polish and lotions. Mom and Dad also got their favorite goodies and we included a beautiful journal for Mom. We made a stuffed giraffe and this beautiful blanket for Baby Tammy and included yarn so those who visit can tie the quilt, making it even more special and creating memories for her loved-ones.
Anytime a donation is made to Sending Smiles, the money will be used to help the family who we are Sending Smiles to. Many times we will state in a post that at that particular time, donations will go directly to a family fund or memorial fund. Otherwise, if you have a specific purpose for your donation, please indicate that. We want to thank our readers for their support and donations, making Sending Smiles possible!!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Smiles for Baby Tammy {and more}

I can't even imagine what it would be like to have a baby suffering in the hospital. The stress of trying to be by her side and give her strength, and still juggling life outside the hospital; taking care of the other children and all other responsibilities life requires.
Meet Tammy's Family:
Tammy's family was staying at a hotel when her daddy put her down for a nap. He put her in the bathroom with the fan on so that she would have a quiet room while he played with the older girls. When he went back to check on her, he opened the door and the fan was blowing in hot air, acting as a heater. Tammy suffered from heat stroke and is in the hospital recovering from the damage that was caused to her brain. While the blog was up, I read that she was making great progress, eyes opening and breathing on her own, but still had a long way to come. (They have removed information from the blog, pending a law suit against the fan manufacturers) So, until we are able to see her progress, we will pray for Baby Tammy.
Tammy's father's cousin is my dear friend. I don't know Tammy, but I know she belongs to a beautiful and loving family. A family that is going through a hard time. I thought we could send some smiles by the way of care packages. Here are the items that would be helpful:

FOR THE BIG SISTERS:
-crayons and coloring books
-nail polish
-beef jerky
-fruit snacks
FOR THE DADDY:
-loves anything with peanut butter in it; recess pieces, p.b. cups, butterfingers
FOR THE MOMMY:
-loves 3 Muskateers Candy
OTHER IDEAS:
-baby lotion (they massage Tammy often)
-princess crowns for the 3 girls
-baby blanket
-stuffed animals
-pictures for her hospital room
-get well cards
I'm sure that even the smallest gesture of kindness will put a smile on their faces and faith in their hearts. If you would like to help in any way, please comment or email us at SmilesForStrangers{at}gmail.com
----------------------------------
I also want to link to another great project. One that a few of my dear friends are involved with. Our host, Christine, lost a baby boy at 17 weeks almost 8 years ago. While this kind of loss might tear one down, she has allowed her challenges to keep her strong. She has a wonderful blog dedicated to women who suffer from miscarriages and infertility; and even those who haven't suffered from these hardships find strength in her blog. She is teaming up with Meka and PJ's Forgotten Children to celebrate Baby Connor's birthday and help many children who may not receive Christmas gifts this year. Please go HERE for information on how to help. I can imagine that even one pair of pajamas, bar of soap, or small gift will make a huge difference in the life of a child who might have been forgotten this Christmas.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Sending Smiles Update...

Kirsti and I just wanted to take a moment and shout out a giant "THANK YOU" to all of you that have done so much to help out with the recent Sending Smiles to Kara Kearsley and to the Liberia Orphan Education Project. You guys ROCK!!!


I met with Kara a few weeks ago and I must say, she is just a very beautiful and sweet girl. She looked fabulous for being through such a rough journey. In fact she was toting around her youngest and gearing up take another to pre-school. Can you say SUPER MOM?!? She said she still has rough days but that she is getting better and stronger all of the time....which is what we all want to hear. We are cheering you on Kara and we wish you a full and complete recovery! With all of your donations we were able to get Kara and her family a $50.00 gift certificate to a local nursery. We hope they will be able to find the perfect tree to plant in their yard that will bring them a lot of happiness in the months and years to come.


If you would like to follow up on Kara's journey and recovery, you can visit her blog, Life Redefined HERE





Now onto Liberia!! I was so excited and anxious to send all of your beautiful tote bags and items to LOEP founder, Beth Iden, that I forgot to take pictures. Grrrrr!!! Thankfully Sending Smiles member Elizabeth Ouellette saved my bacon and took pictures of her church group's contributions to LOEP! We want to thank everyone for all of the time and hard work that was put into this smile. The new Hope school in Liberia is gearing up for a teacher's training session in January. I just know all of your donated items will be very much appreciated and used for many years to come.


As a whole, we were able to gather 20 tote bags, school supplies and several sign language cards as well as other sign language materials.









Sending Smiles also sent several Super Star wrist bands for the LOEP staff and teachers in Liberia. They sacrifice so much and work countless hours to ensure that the children in Liberia gain an education and have a brighter future. They really are true super stars. We hope that they know and will always remember that we are here supporting all that they do. That we applaud them for stepping up and being heroes to those around them.... and are rooting for their success!!!

To follow up on the updates of the Hope school and the other fabulous things LOEP is doing, you can read their blog HERE

Once again...THANK YOU to all of you that have helped. Kirsti and I could not help and serve without your help. We are so grateful for each and every one of you!!

We are currently gearing up for the next Sending Smile as October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. That smile will be announced soon so be sure to check back.

Until then, we hope all of you have a very wonderful weekend!!!

(**The picture of the wristbands courtesy of Oriental Trading.)

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Sending Smiles To LOEP- Part 2, Sign Language Cards

As a follow up to the last post, Sending Smiles would like to help the Liberia Orphan Education Project send school supplies, tote bags and sign language cards. For details on school supplies and tote bags, please read the previous post. For information on sign language cards, however, please read on!!!

There are many children in Liberia that are hearing impaired. LOEP is working to help make sure that the needs of these precious children are not over looked....this is where we would like to help!

ABC, 123 and Color sign language cards are needed
. To make things easy, I downloaded some free flashcards from the web to my computer, printed the flashcards out on white card stock and linked them together with a simple ring. I of course do plan on laminating these cards first before donating them to LOEP! I want to make all of my cards first and laminate them all at once! It's important that the cards we send are laminated since Liberia is a very humid country. We also want to make sure they last a long time and get a lot of use!!

There are of course MANY wonderful resources for us to use, these cards are just to get you started and to give you an idea of what is needed. Just click on the title to be directed to their page.

For the ABC cards I found a free download at APPLES 4 THE TEACHER

The 123 cards I found at ACTIVITY VILLAGE

The color sign language cards were downloaded from SQUIDOO
With the colors, please make sure you send at least the 9 basic colors: Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Purple, Black, White and Brown...if not more colors!

Also, the flashcards do not need to be linked together with a ring, if you prefer to group them by making a durable drawstring bag, that would be great as well. We just want to make sure that that cards are grouped together and stay together!!



Completion of the cards need to be made and received by no later than Monday, September 20th.
Please mail your sign language cards to:

LOEP
c/o Beth Iden
370 Browntown Road
Browntown, VA
22610

Remember to please send as many of these flashcard sets as possible! Not all of the children that are reached by LOEP are orphans. Family members and parents are very anxious to learn as well. We want to make sure there are plenty of sets to go around!!!

Helping LOEP is such a fabulous way to kick off this back-to-school year! Remember to have fun with it!! Get together with your fellow church members, community pals, extended family, children, friends and such and make a service party! If you do, email your pictures to Sending Smiles so we can post them!!

Until then, we deeply appreciate your help. I can only imagine the tender and happy smiles your contributions will make!

To learn more about LOEP you can view their site
HERE
You can also follow their blog HERE

Please feel free to contact us with any questions. It would also be really helpful if you left a comment or an email letting us know that you are participating in this Smile. We want to make sure we are sending a sufficient amount of flashcards, tote bags, etc to LOEP!!!

A HUGE SHOUT OUT OF "THANKS" GOES OUT TO ALL OF YOU!!!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Sending Smiles To LOEP- Liberia Orphan Education Project!!!

(**Note, Donations for A Special Tree For Kara are still being accepted. This Smile will close on August 14th. Stay tuned for that upcoming post!!)

Sending Smiles is SO excited to announce this next project!! For the next 6 weeks we will be working with LOEP...better known as the
Liberia Orphan Education Project
You can view their blog HERE


They are a group of AWESOME people dedicated to serving those in the country of Liberia, West Africa. They are an "all-volunteer, not-for-profit operation". They are currently planning on taking a trip back to Liberia for a teacher's training course. To learn more you can visit their site HERE Supplies are very much needed.



This is where WE would like to help!!!



LOEP needs at least 32 durable tote bags for school supplies and other teaching aids. I have put together an appropriate tote bag tutorial specifically for this project. That is located in a SLIDE at the bottom of this post. IF YOU WOULD LIKE A TOTE BAG TUTORIAL EMAILED TO YOU TO PRINT OUT, PLEASE LEAVE YOUR NAME AND EMAIL AND THE TUTORIAL WILL BE EMAILED TO YOU SHORTLY!!


The tote bag looks a little something like this...



We kindly ask that durable fabric is used. Levi and Corduroy fabric is very appropriate and is usually on sale this time of year! Also, it would be best if gender neutral fabric were used as there are both male and female teachers in Liberia. We wouldn't want to send a strong, cheerful African male teacher a tote bag with pink kittens on it! Lol!! ;O)



If you are interested in contributing and sewing up one or a few tote bags, please leave a comment or email us committing that you will be donating a tote bag.


Bags need to be received no later than Monday, September 20th.

Please mail your tote bags to me, Christine Dallimore. Just leave a comment with your email address and I will contact you shortly with further details.

I will then them ship them out to LOEP the following day, September 21st.



Don't Sew...No Problem!!! LOEP is also in need of sign language cards


Currently, there are many children in Liberia that are deaf, either caused by "natural or preventable causes-diseases or from the war." The LOEP HOPE school would love to help these children find their voice in the world. To find out more information, check out their blog HERE


MANY Sign Language cards are needed. Specifically ABC, Colors, Basic words and such. We would LOVE to send as many sets as we can. Not all children apart of LOEP are orphans. Parents of these deaf children are just as anxious to learn. Can you imagine the excitement of being able to communicate with your child? Awesome!!!


We would also like to have these sign language cards laminated as it is very humid in Liberia. I've also been told there is a "raining season" that is pretty impressive! Laminating these cards would help them to be more durable and last A LOT longer for many children to use!



I will post A LOT more information on the Sign Language cards this weekend. To get you started, however, I found an awesome site where you can download and print out the ABC cards for free!! That site is Apples4TheTeacher This deadline will also be September 20th. That mailing address will be listed in the next post!



If neither of these ideas appeal to you, School Supplies are always needed, as are monetary donations! It's a perfect time of the year to purchase school supplies as they are on sale!! Don't forget to check out the Dollar Stores...and Target (my personal favorite!!) For a detailed list and other information, visit LOEP HERE



I also wanted to share these precious photographs with you! They were given to me by founding member Elizabeth (Beth) Iden. She is just as sweet as can be, an even though we have only chatted through email, her love for Liberia and these people can be felt through the waves. It's very contagious and I am personally so grateful to be working with her and her team on this project! Just look at their sweet faces and smiles...LOVE IT!!!




Thank You Beth and the other members of LOEP! It's so wonderful to be able to see the faces of those we are cheering on!


O.k. my fellow Sending Smiles Pals...Lets set to work and serve these fabulous people!!! I can't wait to see what joy this project will bring...both to the givers and the receivers!!! :O)

Of course if you have any questions, feel free to email us! Until then, here is the tote bag tutorial... Again if you would like to receive the e-pattern, just leave a comment with your email address. Thanks!!!





If you are having trouble viewing it, you can also view it HERE