It's amazing the difference that children can make in this world, and I have one special big sister to tell you about today. Her name is Emily, and back in 2008, her parents got the devastating news that their yet-to-be-born baby boy, Jude, had a brain bleed, or a bilateral stroke. They were told to terminate the pregnancy, that his condition could have profound effects on his life....or he could be a very healthy baby boy with no effects at all. The first three months of his life were healthy, happy months, until one night he had a seizure, and the effects of the stroke became very real. As his mother writes on her blog, Jude now has "clefts" on both sides of his brain, but it's worse on one side. Jude also has vision loss, Cerebral Palsy, and epilepsy. You can actually read more of his story on Jude, The Diary of a Baby and a Stroke. They have been able to control the seizures with medication, but they have spent so many days and nights in the hospital. That is how Emily's Smile Boxes came about.
Emily's Smile Boxes was actually started by Jude's big sister, Emily, after seeing many other children in the hospital. She wanted to spread smiles and cheer to other patients who might otherwise have a hard time finding a reason to smile. She puts together boxes filled with games, toys, crayons, inspirations, and smiley faces, and then they distribute them to local children's hospitals. She also ships boxes if the need arises. She has dropped off over 500 boxes.
So, how can you help? Emily frequently asks for young volunteers to put boxes together, in box making parties, and to drop them off at local hospitals. Even if you don't live in Texas, if you're out of state, they can ship you the supplies to put your own boxes together. This is an amazing opportunity to make a difference in so many young patients' lives. Children shouldn't have to go through the major illnesses that many of them go through, and if you can put a smile on just one child's face and make his/her day just a little brighter, the opportunity is so worth it. Of course, you can also donate to Emily's Smile Boxes either financially, through Paypal via firstname.lastname@example.org, or by donating small items like crayons, notepads, markers, and card games. You can also sign Emily's Guestbook, leaving a note of encouragement to this very special girl.
I think the most wonderful thing about Emily's story is that she has shown true compassion and love through her work, distributing Smile Boxes. She and her parents are examples of courage and beacons of light to me, in that when they thought all hope was gone, they still did not give up, and they've seen Baby Jude as a precious blessing, through all of the trials. Life is truly a blessing, and Jude and Emily's story is truly an inspiration to many.