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In partnership with The Canton Repository, every Monday, Stark Community Foundation is highlighting positive happenings in our community. Here’s to Good News Mondays!
The Valentine Project and its thousands of volunteers are spreading love, hope and joy to kids throughout the United States all year long through the Kindness Card Program — where anyone, anywhere in the country can write and send a greeting card to brighten the day of a child affected by pediatric cancer or chronic illness.
Founded in 2010 by siblings Gregory and Michaela Margida, the local nonprofit was created after the siblings discovered how dealing with a serious diagnosis can be especially lonely for patients and their families, and that those feelings of loneliness are often heightened on holidays like Valentine’s Day.
The Valentine Project’s primary initiative is sending personalized packages for the Valentine's Day holiday in February. Each package is sponsored by that child's own "volunteer valentine" located in cities all over the country — and even as far away as South Africa.
The organization began by sending Valentine packages to children throughout Ohio, and, as its volunteer base grew, it expanded its reach to include children in California and Kentucky. As it realized the impact it was making on children and their families and saw the dedication of its volunteers, the Valentine Project designed a way to send "smiles across the miles" all year long and launched The Valentine Project Kindness Card Program in 2019.
Volunteers from around the globe purchase or create greeting cards, each containing a joke or riddle to serve as a break from health concerns for the recipient and to add an unexpected burst of love when least expected. The Valentine Project personalizes each card before sending it to a child on its list. To date, more than 700 children across the country have received Kindness Cards.
"The feedback has been entirely positive with families sharing how thrilled their children are to get a silly card from someone they don't even know," said Andrea Margida, president and CEO of The Valentine Project. "We've had families tell us that opening a Kindness Card is what made their child, who hadn't smiled in weeks, start giggling and suddenly the house is filled with laughter!
"Imagine what that means to a parent who thought they'd never hear the sound of their child's laughter again. A serious diagnosis changes everything, and children often miss out on the simple joys of childhood."
Any individual, family or organization is invited to participate in the Kindness Card Program. Directions and more information can be found at www.thevalentineproject.org.