The Spirit of Christmas Runs Deep in Kids

Atia’s Project Ladybug Fund is in the final week of its Second Annual Ladybug Love for the Holiday’s Toy Drive. Since November 23rd, we’ve been collecting new, unwrapped toys at over 24 locations around Chicagland. The outpouring of support this year has been spectacular. Last year, we amassed over 1,200 items, and this year, we’re on target to collect even more.

All of the praise and thanksgiving goes out to our incredible supporters who have gone out of their way to participate by purchasing and dropping off their donations. It goes out to those who have continuously promoted the Toy Drive campaign through Facebook, Twitter, mass emailing and word of mouth. It goes out to those who have organized private parties, competitions or have contributed with family donations.

Atia’s Project Ladybug Fund has heard so many incredible stories about the creative ways folks are coming together to help make sure that children battling cancer, who will not be able to go home for the holiday - and in some cases fear that Santa won’t be able to find them in the hospital - will have Christmas presents to open on Christmas day, and will rest easy knowing that Santa didn’t forget them. These presents are more than materialistic items. They’re the hope, love and support these kids and families need this season. They’re the extra little something to remind the parents, and caregivers, that their fellow Chicagoan have big hearts and will always be there to help support their neighbors in need.

For a parent with a child undergoing cancer treatment, gifts for their child and child’s sibling(s) means that they no longer have to worry about the financial burdens the holidays can bring, the stress of figuring out HOW they’re going to be able to leave their child’s bedside to go shopping. Bundled with the excitement and happiness of seeing all the toys is a sense of relief that you can see in the parents’ eyes.

Our nine year old friend, Carter, knows too well how kindness from others during difficult times can be life-changing. Earlier this year, Atia’s Project Ladybug Fund gifted Carter with a laptop so that he could more easily communicate with his family overseas; often, he’d reach out to his aunt or grandma in Australia for comfort during his painful treatment days. It was a sense of “home” that he needed to bring him comfort.

Living Healthy Chicago's New Story about Carter and the Laptop Atia's Project Ladybug Fund gave him.

Last week, I got a chance to visit with Carter and his family at the University of Chicago Comer Children’s Hospital’s Holiday Party. He and his mom told me all about the laptop and how much happiness it’s brought him. Turns out that before we’d given Carter a laptop, he’d been saving his own money – allowances, birthday gifts, etc. – to buy one on his own. Knowing that we were in the midst of this year’s Toy Drive, Carter wanted to do something special. So with the money he’d been saving, he asked his mom to take him shopping…

Carter brought a huge bag of toys he knew the kids would love. He made a point to show me the guitar strap he purchased so that whoever received the Paper Jamz gift would have everything they’d need to enjoy it.

Carter knows that the kids will love these toys because he is one of those kids. Carter is still actively undergoing cancer treatment for Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL), the same thing Atia had, and has three months remaining before he completes his three-and-a-half year treatment plan.

A child fighting cancer, helping his fellow friends and pediatric patients fighting cancer… Does it get any better than that? Our hearts swell at the thought. We can learn so much from children.

Catch a little bit of Carter’s inspirational Christmas spirit and make sure to drop off your toy donation at any one of the participating companies listed here: http://www.projectladybug.org/blog/ladybug-toy-drive.

We are collecting through Friday, December 14th. If you have something you’d like to give, but can’t make it out in time, please email us as chicagofund@projectladybug.org and we’ll make arrangements to come pick up your donation.

On behalf of myself and Project Ladybug, thank you for all that you do to help these young patients and their families. It means more than you know!

And if you need proof, just look at Carter...

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