The 12 Days of a Scout Christmas has become one of our favorite traditions on the Voice of Scouting, and we hope you will visit every day, beginning Friday, Dec 14, to find inspiring Christmas messages based on doing a good turn daily. On the eleventh day of Christmas, we would like to share with you ways you can do a good turn by bringing Christmas to those less fortunate than you.

Write Cards for Hospitalized Kids

This Christmas, there will be many children who will spend their holiday in a hospital. This could be due to a number of reasons, like chronic illness or surgery. By sending a hospitalized kid a card, you can help them feel joy and love instead of loneliness and fear. 

Jen Rubino started a foundation that helps you do just that. Through Cards for Hospitalized Kids, Jen has brought this gift to the national level and you can be a part of it this holiday season. 

Here’s Jen’s story:

Jen Rubino was a worried 11-year-old recovering from surgery when a card from a stranger arrived for her at the hospital. Filled with warmth and compassion, it would inspire Rubino to reach out to thousands of other hospitalized children.

Now a senior in high school, Jen has undergone 23 surgeries. She has a connective tissue disorder and has spent a lot of time in hospitals so she knows how lonely it can seem. She wants kids to know they are not forgotten.

“I kind of felt forgotten about,” she said. “When I got the card, I felt I was not forgotten and people were thinking of me. That is what it is really about, and that is what I want to do for other kids.”

From Cards for Hospitalized Kids

In March 2011, Rubino and her friends began making cards to distribute to sick children in local hospitals with messages of inspiration, encouragement, hope, and love. That September she founded Cards for Hospitalized Kids. So far the nonprofit has sent cards to more than 14,000 kids in more than 150 hospitals and Ronald McDonald Houses nationwide. Over the past holiday season, the organization sent out 3,000 Christmas cards.

The cards are made by volunteers locally and from across the nation and the world, including in Japan, Israel, and Australia. Anyone can host a card-making event, including your youth group, Sunday School class, sports team, or Scout unit.

Mackenzie Tannhauser, 18, of Crystal Lake, was a patient at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, where she received a heart transplant on Sept. 7, 2011. She remained in the hospital for weeks.

“Those weeks ended up being very hard emotionally for me because all I wanted to do was go home, and that’s when I received a card and recovery journal from Jen and her foundation,” Tannhauser said. “It was very reassuring to see this young girl who was so willing to lift the spirits of other kids like her who were facing hardships in the hospital. The card made me feel so much better about myself and reminded me that the battle I was fighting was almost over, and I just had to power through it.”

“It not only helps the kids, but it helps me as well,” Jen said. “To somebody on the outside, it probably seems like it’s such a small gesture … but for a kid struggling with [an illness in the hospital], it means so much.”

How To Do It

From Cards for Hospitalized Kids: Host a card-making activity at your local school, church building, or your own home

If you would like to get involved with Cards for Hospitalized Kids, you can visit their website and learn more. They are an internationally recognized charitable organization.

Anyone from anywhere can get involved. Individuals and groups across the United States (your Scout troop!), and the world, donate time and creativity to make handmade cards and send them to us for distribution in hospitals and Ronald McDonald Houses across the nation.

Or, you can work directly with your local hospital and see if they have any need or requirements for giving cards to hospitalized children. 

You can also work with a Ronald McDonald House in your community or anywhere in the country to learn how you can serve families with sick children. 

Keep The Christmas Spirit Year-round

Although Cards for Hospitalized Kids loves to receive cards for Christmas, you can send cards to children in hospitals year-round. Simply contact Cards for Hospitalized Kids or your local hospital to see how you can bring cheer to hospitalized children. 

Similarly, the acts of service we do during the Christmas season do not have to end when the holiday is over. Keep the Christmas spirit with you year-round and always remember to do a good turn daily. 

Since this is the final day of Christmas, we want to wish you a very happy holiday and a great new year!

Madison Austin
studies Public Relations at Brigham Young University and is a marketing specialist at the Utah National Parks Council. She is an avid hiker and enjoys being outdoors. Growing up in the mountainous regions of Colorado and Virginia enabled her to follow these passions. After moving to Utah to attend college, she has spent her time fostering both a career in Communications and a love for Utah's National Parks.

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