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What Inspired Me to Donate Holiday Gifts to Kids in the Hospital

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The road to my Lyme disease diagnosis has been anything but easy for me. I’ve been doubted by doctors for years. They would say I was stressed or depressed and tell me I was making it up for attention.

I often see commercials about children’s hospitals that show how amazing they are. However, my experiences were much different. In the beginning of 2014, I went to a “top children’s hospital” in Connecticut, searching for a diagnosis as I continued to get more sick. They did nothing for me and wouldn’t consider Lyme at all. I never felt like they were trying to make me better.

After that experience, I realized I didn’t want any gifts Christmas. Everyone in my family was so confused, saying that of all people I deserved something to make me happy. But I disagreed. Instead of receiving gifts, I decided this year was completely about giving.

Because I didn’t feel like anyone helped me or believed me at the children’s hospital, I didn’t want any kids currently there to feel like they were being ignored either, especially during the holidays. I wanted to make their day better and do anything I could to make them happier.

I started saving money from summer through Christmas and eventually bought more than 100 toys, gifts, journals and activities for children, from babies to teens. People would ask me what I wanted for Christmas, and I always replied, “Nothing.”

Children and teens deserve better than how I was treated, and I wanted to make a difference. By Christmas, I packed up all the gifts in tons of bags, filled them up in the car and drove 45 minutes to the same children’s hospital where I was admitted to years ago. I didn’t make the donations to support that hospital. No, I did it for the kids. It’s as simple as that.

toys and gifts for children at hospital

We brought the toys in right after Christmas. It felt so good to surprise the children and let them know somebody was thinking about them.

And on Christmas morning, I opened no gifts. I bought presents for my family and enjoyed watching them unwrap their gifts. My stocking was empty, yet I felt so happy. I didn’t need anything for Christmas. We went to my grandmother’s in the afternoon to see the rest of my family, and the same thing happened. I passed out gifts, but I didn’t get anything. This wasn’t the Christmas for me to receive anything. I was so happy to spend time with my family and enjoy the holiday. Never once did I wish I had something to open.

So now Christmas 2016 is coming around, and what do I want? To give. What am I doing? I’m looking into a few charities to donate to, such as donating dog bones to a dog pound. I think a dog theme is appropriate, since I will be getting a service dog in April. I also plan on donating to the Salvation Army.

I can’t wait for Christmas!

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Originally published: November 17, 2016
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