During the holiday season, it’s easy to get lost in all of the hustle and bustle of shopping, wrapping, and baking (and eating, and drinking, and eating), and forget that the purpose of the season is giving, and not necessarily of the material kind.
For me, Christmas is and always has been about togetherness. My extended family has always been at least eight hours away, and now my parents and brother all live a fair distance away; we go out of our ways to make plans to be together for a part of the holidays, if not all. Trying to fit both my husband’s family and mine in is not always easy, but we make it work.
So many families are not so lucky, and “making it work” can be impossible. Every year, there is an average of 284 beds occupied daily at The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) on an in-patient basis. That is 284 sick children, some curable, some terminal, every day.
SickKids relies heavily on fundraising for its research into fighting children’s health challenges. Did I mention that there is an entire unit dedicated to pain management??
Vaughan Mills is one of the corporate fundraising partners for Sick Kids, and last night I had the privilege of attending their Give to SickKids Lock in Your Love for SickKids event.
The campaign, #VMLoveLockWall, runs until December 24, 2016 at Vaughan Mills (Entrance 4C, Monday to Saturday, 11 AM – 8 PM, Sundays 10 AM- 4 PM); you can purchase a lock, dedicate it to someone you love or to a sick child at SickKids, and lock it to the wall with your message written on it.
I spent a lot of time reading the messages on these locks, thankfully I had tissues. The amount of love on this wall (which had three panels) was both incredible and a little overwhelming; I couldn’t help but wonder how many locks were there for sick children, or their families, from strangers who just wanted to send a message of courage and strength.
When you buy a lock, you also receive a “keypsake” necklace, with the word of your choice, and they attach the key to your lock to the necklace.
Reading the messages of love and encouragement were amazing, and watching the people around me with the spirit of giving was inspiring. I even got to meet Willa Price, an absolutely adorable one-year old patient of SickKids who is featured in one of their campaign videos on YouTube; her face lit up when I spoke to her, she was so precious!
In Santa’s Tiny Big Town, kids can play games, watch videos, and even have a seat while they wait their turn on the Big Man’s lap. The layout and atmosphere was wonderful, and I intend to bring my daughter there ASAP for her photos.
In the hopes of raising $150,000 this year, Vaughan Mills is donating 100% of the proceeds of the Love Lock wall to SickKids, so if I haven’t already given you reason enough to get over there, then this will! Not only that, they are also donating 100% of the proceeds from photos with Santa at Santa’s Tiny Big Town (which is so not as tiny as they make it sound!) to SickKids!
I left the event feeling like I had been a part of something bigger than just me and my little family. There was such an air of togetherness there; I walked away feeling such warmth and positivity, even in the face of what can be a terrible time for some families. The feeling of hope, endurance, and courage won’t leave me any time soon, and I have totally adjusted my outlook on what togetherness means to me.
Get to Vaughan Mills and get your love lock; write your message, and add yours to the hundreds there. Read the messages on the wall. You will feel it too.
Disclosure: I was compensated for my time and effort, but all opinions are my own. It really was a GREAT event for an incredible cause!