Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Power of a Greeting Card

Do you love getting cards in the mail?  Who doesn't? There's something about seeing a hand-addressed envelope with a real live stamp that makes your heart skip a beat.  It's even better when you receive a card and it's not your birthday or a holiday but rather because someone simply cared enough to send you a note. (I think I now know where Hallmark came up with the slogan "When you care enough to send the very best.")

During the year-end direct mail frenzy, Dayton Children's opted to include a greeting card in our packet for donors to send a personalized holiday card for a patient. The response was outstanding and our response rate was improved and the average gift was about $10 more than usual.  More importantly, however, were the thoughtful messages include in the cards wishing our patients well. For six weeks, we were able to deliver a card to a patient and his or her family every day. It was meaningful for families to know that complete strangers made the thoughtful gesture to think of the children in the hospital. If they knew that a donation accompanied those cards, I think they may have even smiled a bit wider.

Last week I featured a wonderful story from Dayton Children's about Nevin.  Nevin has been an extended-stay patient at the hospital and was disappointed that he couldn't go out to play in the snow. What five year old wants to stay indoors when he could romp around outside in a foot of snow and build a snowman? His physical therapist, Janet Squires, in a very creative therapy session, brought a big bucket of snow into Nevin's room so he could play in the snow and build that snowman. Hats, gloves and boots were all a part of the experience. Take a moment to watch the video...I guarantee it will make you smile. 

The response to Nevin's story has been wonderful. It has been viewed 700+, been featured on WDTN News, and shared on Facebook and Twitter. We didn't do this as some kind of social media experiment but I will admit, we are very pleased with the response. The response from the community has been positive and Janet came up with genius plan #2.

With the support of David Grimes, the local owner of  Ace Handyman Hardware Stores, a mailbox was donated and installed on our hematology/oncology unit at Dayton Children's. Every day, Nevin and the other patients need to walk to the mailbox to check for their mail. While it is a good therapy exercise, the kids look forward to getting their cards and letters every day. Our marketing manager, Betsy Woods, prints out emails to deliver to the mailbox. And the emails have been coming daily.

If you watch the video or look at Nevin's photos on the Dayton Children's Facebook page, you will quickly realized that Nevin has something of an obsession with Spiderman.  I've watched this boy grow up at the hospital and truth be told, I have never seen him out of a Spiderman costume. A note arrived on Friday from The Children's Miracle Network with a special Spiderman Valentine for Nevin. Brothers from Phi Kappa Theta Fraternity at Truman State University (in Missouri!) had visited Dayton Children's a few weeks prior for a national leadership conference. They visited Nevin and many other patients that day. TJ, the chapter president, wrote to me and asked if it was okay for them to send cards and letters to the kids and also inquired if they could send PlayStation2 video games.  Oh, yes!!

This was just the tip of the iceberg. Emails, cards and letters are a welcome sight for kids in the hospital. If you want to help, you can send also to:
The Children's Medical Center of Dayton
Attn: Betsy Woods, Marketing
One Children's Plaza
Dayton, OH 45404-1815

Rest assured, they will arrive in the mailbox or on the meal trays of our kids every day.

A simple greeting card or note to let a sick or injured child know you care. Does it get any easier than that? Getting kids to smile is priceless. It's a really worthwhile investment.

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