The gifts keep pouring in!!! And we are all so thrilled to be a part of this amazing experience!!!
As Dylan's Mommy, I have to share that as we went through many of the received items today, I was especially touched by those who actually put gifts in a birthday bag. What a nice way to honor our little birthday boy!
The box in St. Barnabas School was FILLED and emptied a couple times during the course of two weeks. Once again, we have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support that we have received by such wonderful people! We don't need times like this to remember how blessed we are, but perhaps it is at these times that we are given the opportunity to tell others how fortunate we feel to have made St. Barnabas our home!
Some of the early items from St. Barnabas... Another load from school...
The first books and toys of Dylan's Gifts 2009 began coming into our home around the beginning of September. Just like last year, it has been so fun to watch the girls receive items. Their eyes get big and their smiles grow wide and then, what comes next still shocks us. They make comments like, "Some boy or girl will really LOVE this!"
It is also a treat to watch them check over the items and sort them with such care.
By September 9th, the girls started laughing about how our table was disappearing again and how we actually haven't been able to keep up with some of the sorting. (We like to all go through the things together, but this week our schedules have not allowed us to do that as we would have liked. We are looking forward to the weekend!)
On Friday, May 22, our little family prepared a huge taco meal with all the fixings for the Ronald McDonald House adjacent to Hope Children's Hospital. The House was slated to be FULL, but we were so happy to hear that a couple families were sent home earlier in the day as their children were released from the Hospital just in time for the long holiday weekend.
All packed up and ready to go (food enough for 40!)...
After Hannah and Riley helped with much of the meal preparation and we all ate with the House guests, they were able to enjoy playing with some of the other children in the playroom while we cleaned up the kitchen.
Two tired girls insisted on having their picture taken with Ronald McDonald. (The truth is, this is the only Ronald McDonald that Riley will go near. She is still very afraid of the real Ronald.)
The best part about this night (as I now post this many months later), is that Hannah and Riley still talk about what fun they had making the meal for the families who were staying at the Ronald McDonald House. I share this moment in our lives, not only because we get to see some of Dylan's Gifts while we are at the House, but also because Hannah shares that she "loves visiting the Ronald McDonald House because it makes her think of Dylan." I am pretty certain that if it weren't for Dylan, we would not have the amazing experiences such as these that we continue to have with the Hospital today. Just one more reason why we remain so thankful for the little boy who changed our lives forever!
In the evening of December 15, 2008, the Ronald McDonald House adjacent to Hope Children's Hospital opened its doors to the first patients and their families. Earlier in the day, our family was among the special guests invited to the ribbon cutting ceremony to mark this long awaited special occasion. We were able to tour the House, which although beautiful in its own right, was even more spectacular as it was decorated for the holidays.
Even though all of these things were very wonderful, the greatest part of our day was by far, the discoveries of Dylan's Gifts that were found throughout the House, but especially in the playroom. The greatest discovery was a very special gift that was picked out for Dylan's Gifts by our very own Hannah! She was so excited to see "her gift" ready and waiting to be played with by some very special boys and girls! Riley could have spent many hours playing in the beautiful playroom, especially with this train table.
What a thrill it was see the impact that Dylan's Gifts made even in a few local newspapers!
We would like to extend our most sincere thanks to those who took their time and energy to interview and photograph Hannah and Riley in their efforts to honor their beloved brother, Dylan. Thank you for all you do!!!
One of Hannah's biggest requests in taking toys and books to Hope Children's Hospital was that she wanted to make sure that she and Riley could at least give out one of the gifts. What an absolutely joy it was to witness yet another dream come true!
Riley ran after the sweet girl to give her just one more hug....
Hannah's content smile reminded all of us of the blessing of being able to give to others!
In 2008, Hannah (then age 6) & her sister, Riley (then age 3) had a “dream” to make a child’s time in a hospital “more like being at home with books to read and toys to play with.” Along with a bit of help from their parents, Matt & Heather, the sisters started DYLAN'S GIFTS to honor their brother, Dylan, who left an amazing impact on so many people with his brief life in September 2006.
The girls began DYLAN'S GIFTS with the simple goal to gather “10 things for Hannah & 10 things for Riley” to honor Dylan’s birthday (September 12th) and to deliver the “gifts” to Advocate Hope Children’s Hospital and the House of Hope Ronald McDonald House, because as Hannah put it, “That would be a lot of things and that would go to a lot of kids and that would be really good!” What started as such a small request for help from family members and friends to honor Dylan’s birthday grew into something much bigger than even two little girls could have dreamed!