Boston Children’s Hospital will be getting some sweet treats on Thursday.
More than 2,300 bags of candy will be delivered to critically-ill patients, their families and the hospital staff that cares for them. Each bag will come with a note handwritten by kids from elementary schools throughout Eastern Massachusetts.
It’s all part of an effort by The B Fund, a nonprofit organization that gets children involved in charity efforts, while supporting families of critically-ill children. All proceeds from The B Fund benefit Boston Children’s Hospital.
The B Fund provides much-needed resources for families who are caring for their children and empowers children to make a difference in the lives of others, said Melanie Torosyan, who is director of the major gift giving at Boston Children’s Hospital Trust.
For a parent, seeing your child struggle with an illness or other medical complications may be one of the most difficult things to witness. Kathleen VanDernoot, who helped start The B Fund, knows this feeling all too well. She had two children spend time in intensive care units at Boston Children’s Hospital.
“As a parent that cared for a critically ill child, it was one of darkest experiences for myself and my family’s life,” she said. VanDernoot’s worst fears came true when her son died while in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.
But her daughter received intensive care at the same hospital and pulled through. VanDernoot then began thinking about how helpless and scared the other parents in the waiting room were.
She knew how that felt, and she knew she had to do something to help. She was one of four founding families to start The B Fund. And along with helping those caring for children, VanDernoot wanted to help other kids give back.
“If you think about it, we have to develop compassion in a child similar to developing muscles for strength,” she said.
One of the most successful ways she helps kids get involved is through the candy drive she said.
The candy being delivered on Thursday was donated from the Halloween stashes of those same elementary school students who wrote the accompanying notes.
VanDernoot didn’t want to just have children solicit donations or ask for money for The B Fund. She wanted them to understand the significance of giving.
By pairing with private donors, The B Fund adds a value to each piece of candy a child donates.
Donors contribute 25 cents per piece of candy donated. With more than 3,500 kids participating, The B Fund raised $10,000 for Boston Children’s Hospital — and the candy still gets put to good use as a treat for the patients, families and hospital workers.
VanDernoot said some of the children were hesitant about giving away their own candy, but it became a teaching moment to talk about how their efforts would help others, and to acknowledge what they’re doing.
The B Fund does a few different projects throughout the year, including giving away care packages for parents of children in intensive care, which provides vouchers for parking, meals and hotel stays.
"It was the random acts of kindness by strangers that got me through the day," VanDernootsaid of the time she spent in the intensive care waiting room. The families that The B Fund helps, she added, realize there "are strangers out there that say, 'I know this is hard, but we care.'"