Along with the latest toys and holiday jingles, this is the season of giving. As a parent, the numerous children’s hospitals that ask for your contributions can really pull at your heartstrings. So how can you decide where to donate your money? It’s a very personal choice. Which is why we’ll be making a few gentle recommendations for groups in need of our help and support, especially at this time of year. Of course, the choice is up to you—but here’s the first of a group of organizations that we think is doing great work.
Shriners Hospitals for Children—which encompass a total of 22 hospitals across the country—help treat thousands of children with spinal cord injuries, spine problems, and upper and lower extremity conditions (like burns, cleft hands, club feet, and other deformities). The nearest hospital to NYC is in Philadelphia, which treats around 400 children from New York City. All of these patients are treated at no cost to their families, so Shriners is able to do so much good largely with the help of donations.
While Shriners treats a wide range of children with diverse conditions, each patient is cared for as if he or she was the doctor’s own son or daughter. It’s a personal kind of place. Each child has a team of experts which meets weekly to discuss strategy and share ideas for the patient while working towards establishing the best treatment plan.
The goal behind any treatment at Shriners is to help children get well and be able to live as independently as possible. Independence Square is something you won’t find on any map of Philadelphia, but it’s the heart of the hospital. The indoor exercise area helps kids learn how to adapt to their new injuries in the real world. The area has work stations like grocery shopping, cooking in the kitchen, and getting in and out of cars. Navigating such controlled situations help children practice real life scenarios in a safe environment.
Another unique feature of the hospital is that all of the prosthetics designed for the patients are made especially for them right at the hospital. They’re built with the intention that children will wear them for years and be able to go about their everyday lives with confidence. What’s more, the devices are adapted to fit the child as he or she grows up.
There are many success stories to be found at Shriners. A four-year-old boy came down with meningitis and was told by doctors that he would die in a few days. His parents brought him to Shriners where he had a successful double leg amputation. The hospital created special “Spider-man” prosthetics for him, which he loves showing off and running around on to this day. A young girl who was treated with severe scoliosis and is now a healthy teenager who does gymnastics. After their treatment at Shriners, many former patients actually return to the hospitals to volunteer their time.
So how can you get involved and give back? The best way for New York families to contribute is through cash donations. “Ninety cents of every dollar donated to Shriners Hospitals is used for patient care,” says Public Relations Manager Stephanie Byrwa. “It’s only with the generosity of donors that we can continue the tradition.”
Currently, donations are needed for a new EOS Imaging System: a state-of-the-art medical imagining (X-RAY) system that takes whole-body images in less than ten seconds, helping to reduce radiation exposure by as much as 90 percent compared to standard X-RAYs.
Families can raise donations by facilitating a corporate gift, workplace giving program, or special event fundraiser—great ideas for the holiday season. Alternatively, a personal fundraising page on the Shriners website allows you to raise funds as part of the Hearts of Giving personal fundraising program. The page can be set up in honor of a loved one or to celebrate a special occasion, and allows others to donate directly to the hospital online. To learn more about setting up a personal fundraising page, visit www.donate2shc.org/personalfundraising
For more information on Shriners Hospitals for Children, visit shrinershospitalsforchildren.org