Saturday, November 30, 2013

Holiday Hope Tip #5: Volunteering for Existing Holiday Hope Efforts

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If you are interested in participating in a current effort underway for the holidays - we have a great list for you! Below you will find organizations and individuals who are currently organizing projects in their community to provide hope to families of critically ill children. Would you like your project added to our list? Email us at We would be glad to add you!

Project Sweet Peas - Owen's Miracle
Modesto & Oakland, CA
Holiday care package delivery

Contact Information:
Kathleen Hill, Project Coordinator

Project Sweet Peas - Shelby's Sunshine
Indianapolis - St. Vincent's
Holiday care package delivery to St. Vincent's Women's Hospital NICU

Contact Information:
Stephanie Olivarez, Project Coordinator

Project Sweet Peas - Avi's Embrace
Lafayette, IN - St. Elizabeth East & IU Health Arnett
Holiday care package delivery to local NICU's

Contact Information:
Sarah King, Project Coordinator

Project Sweet Peas - MJ's Memories
Topeka, KS
Holiday care package delivery to local NICU's

Contact information:
Megan Skaggs, Project Coordinator

Project Sweet Peas - Multiple Miracles 
Boston Area
Will be donating 100 care packages to Boston NICU's

Contact Information:
Diane Hrenko, Project Coordinator

Project Sweet Peas - Gabriella's Grace
Toledo, OH
Holiday care package delivery to local NICU's

Contact Information:
Gwen Weber, Project Coordinator

Project Sweet Peas - Ava's Angels
New Brighton

Holiday care package delivery to local NICU's

Contact Information:
Lisa Daher, Project Coordinator

Lisa Vitous
Holiday delivery to Magee Women's Hospital

Contact Information: 
Lisa Vitous, Project Coordinator

Project Sweet Peas - Milana's Miracles
Holiday care package delivery to local NICU's

Contact information:
Heather Sopp Farnan, Project Coordinator

Project Sweet Peas - Precious Kisses
Will be delivering water bottles with candy and a foam snowman picture frame. Also delivering 25+ care packages to Lankenau hospital.

Contact information:
Maria Garvey Bentin, Project Coordinator

Rhode Island
Project Sweet Peas - Gabriel's Gift
Providence, RI
Holiday dinner with care package delivery to local NICU

Contact information:
Corin Nava, Project Coordinator
Project Sweet Peas - Nevaeh's Rainbow
Holiday care package delivery to local NICU's

Contact Information:
Nicole Onesti, Project Coordinator

Project Sweet Peas - Lauren & Madeline's Gift
Holiday care package delivery to local NICU's

Contact Information
Lisa Rondeau, Project Coordinator

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Friday, November 29, 2013

Holiday Hope Tip #4: Fundraising

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So you've decided how you would like to give back to your local ICU but how do you make it happen? Will you need to raise funds? Host a volunteer day? Spread the word? Our next three Holiday Hopes tips will cover these topics!
Holiday Hope Tip #4: Fundraising 

  • Host an item drive: Host a fundraiser to collect specific items! In general donation drives are better received when you are only requesting a few select items.  Being clear and concise will help orient those who would like to give back. Utilize social media like Facebook events to help spread the word. 
  • Raise money: Goal oriented funding generally will help you raise more funds. Make a budget for what you anticipate spending and make that budget your goal. Be open to sharing your budget with others so that they know where their money is going. Motivate others by creating teams and/or providing incentives. Use a website like and your social media to honor contributions made by others.
  • Reach out to local businesses: Local businesses are generally very receptive to helping out community members. Check in to see if they would be willing to donate items or sponsor an item monetarily. Make sure to follow up with the businesses if they are willing to donate by sending your thanks and by showing them what resulted from their donations.
  • Team up with organizations: Oftentimes, there are organizations in your community that share a common mission. Reach out to them and see if they would be interested in working together. Connecting with a 501(c)3 organization may also help you receive donations from larger corporations.
  • Sell items to raise funds: Host a bake sale, or a craft fair. Buy items wholesale like flower bulbs, jewelry, t-shirts, ornaments, and sell them to supporters. Contact an independent (Thirty-one, Avon, Miche, etc) consultant to see if they might be willing to work together. The possibilities are really limitless!
  • Host a fundraising event:  Fundraising events can yield a large profit but they can be very time consuming so make sure to start early. A lot of businesses are willing to work with local individuals and groups to reach their fundraising goals. Contact local bowling alleys, restaurants, zoos and other attractions to see what kind of event fundraising they have to offer. If they already have a program in place, then it will make organizing the event much easier. If you are feeling ambitious, organize a walk, a polar plunge or other large community event. Stephanie Olivarez, Vice President & co-founder, knows the value of organizing a fundraising event: "Doing Shelby's Sunshine Polar Plunge at the end of November helps with our Christmas Delivery. By participating, supporters truly know they are helping with this delivery." For these type of events we recommend that you start at least 9-12 months in advance. .
If you have any more questions regarding fundraising  please feel free to email us at We are more then willing to provide any advice that we can

Be sure to follow us on Facebook and on our blog for more Holiday Hope Tips! 
Join the conversation and connect to others in our Facebook group:
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Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Holiday Hope Tip #3: Deciding What to Donate to Your Local ICU: In-Hospital Events

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Many people associate the Holidays with good food and good company. When experiencing a ICU stay, parents rarely are able to have home cooked meals and their interactions with loved ones are limited. Consider donating your time to providing meals, a crafting event or other in-hospital event to your local ICU to bring some cheer in time for the holidays.

For some hospitals, these services may exist so make sure to inquire about them when making initial contact with your hospital, you may be able to volunteer!

If your hospital does not currently offer your service of interest, you might want to inquire about starting one. As we have mentioned previously, some hospitals may not allow meals, or other services because of their policies. But take it from us, it really doesn't hurt to ask! If anything, they will be grateful that you are thinking of their families, even if it isn't a possibility right now.

So what are some possible events you could host at your local hospital?
  • Meals: As we mentioned previously, homemade meals are few and far between for ICU families. Providing a home cooked meal will be sure to put a smile on their faces. Make something that is easy to cook in large quantities. Casseroles, chili and other similar recipes are great main dishes to serve. Another idea is to do something where the families can assemble what they would like. For example, a sandwich bar or a make your own waffle setup.  You could also bring snacks for the families to take back with them to the room. 
  • Crafting Events: Providing a craft will give families the much needed time to focus on something positive and fun. Many, many times I have heard from families how great it was just to have those moments to unwind. Scrapbooking is a great service to provide ICU families. Other ideas include onesie, picture frame or name plaque decorating. Check out pinterest! You can find a wealth of adorable baby crafts!
  • Support group: Host a support group in your local ICU for families to come together and bond with one another. Include local volunteers in the meeting that have been through a ICU stay. They will be able to provide valuable support to families. Overall, this is a great social activity for parents and siblings to interact with one another. 
  • Photo sessions: Invite a local photographer and Santa to the ICU. Create a photo opportunity for families to treasure forever.

Find more advice, and connect with others on our Facebook group: and keep following our blog and Facebook page for more tips this Holiday season.

If you have any questions, please feel free to email us at!
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Friday, November 15, 2013

Holiday Hope Tip #2: Deciding What to Donate to Your Local ICU - Holiday Gift Items

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Once you are cleared to deliver at the hospital (See Advice Tip #1), be sure to ask if there are any restrictions on items that are included or check their website. After you know your hospital's policies, you are ready to start. But what to donate?

If you are interested in donating items make sure to keep it simple, but donate something with meaning. Our packages on average cost $30-$50 a piece, but in today's economy being able to provide every little one in the NICU a package in that price range personally is not within most people's means. Single items or small gifts bags with 2-3 items are well received and easy for you and the staff to store until they ready to be delivered to the families. 

Holiday Items

This could be anything from stockings to Holiday themed accessories for baby. Here is a list of common items that we deliver to the NICU during the holidays

  • Holiday Board Books: Board books are a great way for parents to interact with their little ones and even more fun if they have a holiday theme!
  • Baby caps: If your hospital allows caps, consider donating holiday themed caps to the little ones in the NICU. Santa and elf caps are always a favorite. These also make great photo opportunities for the families. 
  • Blankets: Holiday themed or otherwise, blankets are always a wonderful gift if your NICU policies allow. If you are making the blankets, make sure to select fabrics and yarns that keep baby's delicate skin in mind.
  • Disposable cameras: Help families capture treasured memories this holiday season by providing them with a camera. Nurses also love to have them around when parents are away to capture moments and milestones. 
  • Ornaments: Although the family may not have a tree to hang the ornament on today, an ornament will serve as a reminder of their journey for years to come. You can find "My First Christmas" ornaments or ornaments with a photo insert at most any store.
  • Plush animals: Buy holiday themed teddy bears or other plush animals. They will look super cute in baby's area in the NICU.
  • Christmas treats: Donate candy and other Christmas goodies. The parents are sure to be thankful for a sweet treat!
  • Gift cards: Include a gas card or a restaurant card. Traveling and food expenses can accumulate quickly when your baby is in the NICU. Sponsoring a meal or travel to the hospital will mean the world to the families. 
  • Holiday music: Music has shown to be beneficial to children in intensive care. Donate CD's with a holiday theme so that the NICU can be filled with these seasonal tunes.
  • Cards: make or buy special holiday themed cards. Include a heartfelt message letting the families know you are thinking of them this holiday season
Holiday Gift Bags (2-3 items)Wrap up all all of your items in creative packaging. You could use traditional gift bags or add a holiday twist by using a stocking.

Make sure to join our Facebook group where we will be posting links to some great deals on Holiday items!

Keep following our blog and Facebook page for more tips this Holiday season. We will also be presenting a couple more ways you can give back including hosting Holiday meals and crafting ideas so make sure to stay connected!

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Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Holiday Hope Tip # 1: Contacting Your Local Hospital, Medical Care Home or Housing Facility

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Holiday Hope Tip # 1: Contacting Your Local Hospital, Medical Care Home or Housing Facility

One thing we hear a lot is "I want to donate, but I don't know how to go about doing it". That's why we created this event! To help you help others this holiday season!

Contact your hospital's Child Life Department, Volunteer Services, Chaplin, Support Teams, or the Unit Director and let them know you were interested in donating. You can almost always find their telephone numbers on their website. If not, see if they have a Facebook page and ask on there. And if that doesn't work - try just calling the hospital and ask a service rep!

Once you are cleared to deliver at the hospital, be sure to ask if there are any restrictions on items that are included or check their website. Some hospitals may not allow certain items like blankets, stuffed animals or food. Some hospitals even have specific guidelines on how those items must be stored, washed, etc... If you are not sure what your hospital, medical care or housing facilities allows contact the Child Life Department, Volunteer Services, Chaplin, Support Teams, or Unit Director you gained clearance through.

This is often the most difficult part in the process because it may take some time for the hospital to connect you with the right personnel and even more time if they have to approve your donation. Policies vary greatly from facility to facility. Some may have an open donation policy and some have very specific guidelines on what can be donated. You may want to start at least a month in advance to ensure that you have approval in time for the holidays.

For more tips follow us on Facebook or join our Facebook group.

If you need any additional help or advice on how to get in touch with your local ICU, email us at We would be more then happy to help!
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Monday, November 11, 2013

Holiday Hope - Bringing HOPE to families with critically ill children during the holidays

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Holiday Hope

Thousands of families across the country will spend the holidays in the intensive care unit this year – with all in need of some form of comfort. Consider paying it forward and providing hope to these families this year in time for the holidays!

Holiday Hope is an initiative in which families nationwide are encouraged to give back to their local hospitals, medical care home or housing facility, December 11th through the 25th. It is our hope that if enough families join in, together we can bring a touch of comfort to them all.

Join our Holiday Hope Initiative

It’s easy; join our Facebook group ‘Holiday Hope’ where we will offer advice, ideas, and tips on how to donate and get involved with your local ICU in time for the holidays.

Our Facebook group can be found here:

Frequent our blog and Facebook group often. We will be posting advice throughout the season!

Spread the word

Share the initiative on your pages, and your blogs. Submit the Holiday Hope initiative to your local news station, newspaper or other media outlet. Help us reach out and inspire as many people as possible!

Share Your Story

After you have made your donation to your local ICU, visit our website to submit your story to our Holiday Hope database! Your story will be featured on Project Sweet Peas social media.

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