In September 2016 Marcos, who works as a financial advisor with Edward Jones, had volunteered to help during the Edward Jones Charity Golf Tournament benefiting Stuff the Sleigh. Little did we know that in just a few months we would cross paths with Stuff the Sleigh when our son Ethan was diagnosed with T-cell ALL (acute lymphoblastic leukemia) in February 2017. It was a stressful and overwhelming time, especially going from the ER to the Pediatric ICU at Texas Children’s Hospital, with the news that Ethan had a mass in his chest that was putting pressure on his heart.
Taking care of a critically ill child but also trying to keep some normalcy in the household with our older daughter Gaby felt like we were juggling too many roles as parents. Thankfully Ethan responded well to all the chemotherapy and was released within a week and continued treatment in the outpatient clinics.
It was during this time that Stuff the Sleigh contacted us and was so generous to provide Ethan with an IPad. I can’t say enough times how much this IPad has meant to him – providing him with distraction and entertainment through the long hours of waiting and going through procedures and infusions, not only during clinic visits but also when he has had to be admitted to the hospital when sick with a fever or when receiving chemo over several days. Another blessing was that Stuff the Sleigh not only thinks about the cancer child but the other members of the family as well. Finding out that Gaby loved to read, she received a gift card to Barnes and Noble. I can still remember how her face lit up when she saw that the gift card was for her. We also received gift cards for gas, restaurants, and to grocery stores, all very useful in a time when our normal life had turned upside down.
A big highlight of our year was when Stuff the Sleigh invited Ethan to the Bellaire Police Department where he was sworn in as an honorary police officer. For Ethan, who in kindergarten said he wanted to be a policeman, this was a dream come true. We are so grateful for Stuff the Sleigh and their continued support for Ethan and our family through this journey. You all have been such a blessing to many.
Last Saturday night Anais, Nicole and Stuff the Sleigh pulled off such a wonderful family night for us at Seasons 52. Anais gave Chloe and I matching birthstone pendant necklaces that matched her biological December birthday and matching cuff links for Dion. It was such an emotional night, but we also shared lots of laughs. Once Seasons 52 was told the reason for our family dinner, they provided us with private dining and graciously picked up the bill. Kendra Scott also graciously gave the necklaces as well as the cuff links. Our family is so appreciative for all who made this night so special.
-C. Alleman, an incredibly inspiring mom speaking about a surprise family experience put together by Stuff the Sleigh and Anais
I just wanted to share a short story with you about how your organization has effected our lives. My name is Shelly and my daughter is a patient at Texas Children’s. I recently was asked to do a quick interview with Garrett at the annual Stuff the Sleigh event, where I thanked donors for their generosity. It was impromptu and had I really thought about what I was going to say it would of went more like this. Two years ago we were introduced to Stuff the Sleigh at their Christmas Party. Not knowing what to expect the moment we entered the event we were greeted with such warmth from the team and volunteers. What they were unaware of was this was the first outing inside in a public space since my daughters diagnosis that we had taken her to. Weakened immune systems and neutropenia become the new normal with a Cancer child. I remember saying a quick prayer at the clinic that her ANC would be high enough for us to attend. At the party she got to see Santa something I was not sure she would get to do that year and she also enjoyed the Christmas Carols and played a quick game of duck duck goose! To a parent it meant everything to see her smile and feel somewhat like a normal family if only for a moment. I can tell you when something like this disease rocks your world even the smallest accomplishments can bring you to tears of joy, thinking that your child may never have been at that point . As the event came to an end and our belly’s full and our spirits high, we were given a gift which left us speechless at just how much generosity strangers can possess. At the time we did not know how much this single gift would impact our daughters life. We were blessed with an I pad and it has been the only thing that distracted our daughter through many painful procedures she had to endure, countless hospital stays, and a way to get her to eat when nothing tasted good from the chemo. It was indeed her happy place, her retreat when she was trying to block out all the unpleasant things going on. Her nurses were also able to communicate with her through it and gain their trust by being involved in what she was watching. The holiday’s are supposed to be full of joy, warmth, and a general feeling of peace and good will toward men. On behalf of myself and countless other families you have touched thank you from the bottom of our hearts for displaying this and more.
On behalf of the Child Life Department at Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus, I would like to thank you and Stuff the Sleigh for the donation of toys and games for the patients and families in the Cancer and Hematoma Center at West Campus. In addition to patients receiving gifts during the holidays, some patients who are hospitalized or visiting the clinics on their birthdays will receive a toy as a birthday gift. Still other items will be used to acknowledge the accomplishments of patients who willingly and bravely cooperate during difficult or painful procedures.
Because of donors like you and with the support of our community, the Child Life Department is better able to alleviate stress and anxiety, promote positive coping, and create special moments for our patients and families.
It was a pleasure to meet you Garrett. Thank you again for taking time during a very busy season to show compassion for the patients of Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus.
Stuff the Sleigh, Thank you so much for your gift to Dustin. We appreciate it more than you know. It’s perfect timing for the holidays and also for all our travel expenses – in state and out of state to Michigan for his treatments! We thank you for your help and appreciate this organization! Dustin is a fighter and is staying strong. God Bless.
Dear Kelli, Garrett and my kiddos — thank you so much for all the love, prayers and support you have given me over the years but especially now!! Your card and gift is so thoughtful and wonderful! Thank you so much! Your family is so special to me.
Ashmore Family, what a sweet surprise to open my mail and see your names, (excuse me, autographs) with our dinner too! Make. My. Day. We miss you all so much and hope-hope-hope to see you so very soon. You all are our best. Love you like crazy.
Thank you for all you are doing for Kurt! I wish we could give more because he so deserves it! Please keep us updated on the progress of him getting the van!
May your kindness be returned to you in the same beautiful way it was offered. Your generosity and support are greatly appreciated and will always be remembered. I am so sorry that it has taken me so long to thank you for making a huge difference for our family this past Christmas. We had no idea that we would be so spoiled on that our kids would have such a wonderful holiday. They all absolutely loved their gifts. Lucy sleeps with her stuffed unicorn and Ross plays with his superhero Trio set daily. Julia, the baby, calls bath time “bubble” because of her Leap Frog bath bubble toy. Additionally, all of the gift cards have really impacted our budget these past few months. I cannot begin to tell you how much we appreciate all of your efforts and thoughtfulness. Thank you for making us feel so supported and loved. Thank You!