Giving is the real gift
There is a social media trend among adults. When celebrating a birthday, in lieu of gifts, some take an opportunity to raise money for something close to their hearts: a charity they love or a cause they want to lift up.
But it is not every day when you hear of someone young, someone super excited about presents, deciding to forgo the focus on themselves and shine the light on something bigger.
Meet Elliana Martinez. This big-hearted, passionate 7 year old did just that when she chose to turn her birthday bash into a fundraiser.
“At first, Elliana was thinking about donating to a local animal rescue since she loves animals. However, as we shared different charity options, she started to become most excited about Children’s Hospital Colorado (CHC),” Elliana’s mother Gia said. “Initially, she didn’t know or understand that there are children who are so ill they need to live in the hospital.” Gia continued to explain how this touched Elliana’s heart and she became focused on helping them. “I was a little taken by her conviction. This was her cause.”
Then, Elliana learned there was a new program called medical dogs, or MDs. These dogs work with clinical staff to help children at the hospital who are going through scary, often painful situations.
Gia shared, “The MDs visit children feeling lonely or sad during or after a procedure or when taking medication, by helping brighten their day with smiles and giggles. When we brought up the Medical Dogs program to Elliana, her eyes widened and she became even more excited, jumping up and down and ‘woo-hooing’ with joy!”
Elliana was moved to help bring together children and dogs at CHC. “It was a perfect match for her giving and her excitement to help both.”
With the cause determined, the invites went out and the support came flooding in. So many friends, family, community and church members showed up, with a total donation of $454.71. Some of Elliana’s friends gave her birthday cards with several dollars inside.
Deannah Baesel, the senior coordinator for Annual Giving at CHC, welcomed their gift and even had a gigantic check for the amount donated. Elliana got to sign it. And even better, she got to meet Galaxy the MD and his handler, Sarah Scott.
Gia said, “Elliana can be a shy kid, so all this attention by strangers was a bit much for her at first. She later expressed feeling happy to be able to help kids at CHC. Elliana knows it will not take away the sickness or pain, but she is hopeful Galaxy and the other MDs, can make them feel better.”
Gia added that she doesn’t think her daughter fully understands the positive impact she made.
“We can only hope and pray Elliana’s story of giving for her chosen cause becomes inspiring to other kids. We believe even the tiniest donation matters, especially when it comes from the heart,” shared Gia.
Encouragement is all Eliana needed. The rest was her.
By Karen Leigh; photos courtesy of Gia Martinez