The Valentine Project: Because She Doesn’t Have Many Reasons to Smile

For a lot of people, Valentine’s Day is all about the “me.” What are people going to give me? What’s my boyfriend/girlfriend going to do for me? Who’s going to text me? Oh, poor me, I’m not in a relationship… no one loves me… no one will be showering me in chocolates, flowers, and mushy love notes. Me, me, me

But when was that ever fulfilling? Who can be happy while solely looking inward? If saints were made that way you’d spot them by looking for the people taking selfies at the gym… not the people who are regular attendees of the Tuesday morning rosary group.

Let me introduce you to Greg.

While he’s not quite old or gray enough for the Tuesday morning rosary group (he’s 20), his awesomeness is pretty much on par with them. He participated in Life Teen during high school and now he’s a Sophomore at Grinnell College in Iowa where he’s a rapping, running, altar-serving, bio-chemistry major.

He’s also on a mission to help cheer up children and their families who are suffering under the cross of chronic illness. A couple years ago he started something called “The Valentine Project” and it’s been a huge success.

I challenge you to read about this project in the following Q&A Greg did for us. Take the opportunity to be “other-centered” instead of self-centered this Valentine’s Day. There are thousands of children with much bigger problems than yours. Putting a smile on a child’s face will certainly help bring a smile to yours… no matter what your Valentine’s Day is like this year.

– Christina Mead

1. What is The Valentine Project?

The Valentine Project is an organization that sends gift boxes to children whose lives have been affected by a chronic illness. This includes siblings of children who are patients, and children who have survived an illness. By visiting the website, volunteers from all over the world can choose a child’s name and make a personalized Valentine’s Day box for them. They then send this box to our home in Ohio, where FedEx packages and ships each box to the family.

2. What inspired you to start The Valentine Project?

I was given the idea for the Valentine Project from the director of Camp Quality Ohio, a camp where I volunteer for kids with cancer. She told me about a volunteer in the past who sent Valentines to all of the campers for Valentines Day. My sister, mother, and I coordinated the project the first year by sending gift boxes to all of the campers at Camp Quality Ohio. Each year since then we have worked to include more children from area hospitals. Next year, we plan to include children from other, out-of-state organizations. My hope is that The Valentine Project will eventually serve children all over the country and maybe even the world.

Valentine01

My philosophy behind the project is that we should reach out to those affected by an unexpected diagnosis by sending them an unexpected gift.

3. How have the children and families responded?

We have received a lot of good feedback from families. Since our project is annual, parents of some of the children who have been clients since our first year told us that their kids are starting to get used to the tradition of presents on Valentine’s Day and look forward to it.

4. How can someone participate in The Valentine Project?

You can participate in The Valentine Project by visiting this link. Chose a child from the list that you would like to sponsor and make a small box of gifts that you think they would like given their age and gender. Some examples can be found on our website: www.facebook.com/thevalentineprojectusa.

If there aren’t any children’s names that still need a sponsor, check back later because we are continuing to add to the sign up sheet as more parents sign their children up. Also, if you’re able to make a box but there is no name available, you can chose an age group and gender and make a box and we can deliver it to the hospital for a child who fits that description.

Next, address the package to:

Child’s first name last initial/Age (example: Michaela M/25)
THE VALENTINE PROJECT
11592 McCallum Avenue
Alliance, Ohio
44601

Make sure the package is in the mail in time to arrive by February 8 and the child will receive it in time for Valentine’s Day.

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