When Savannah was 14, she learned that she needed brain surgery and would be away from her Virginia home on Christmas Day. But she stayed positive. She decided if she couldn’t be home for the holidays, she’d bring her holiday spirit to Cincinnati Children’s – in abundance.
Savannah and her sisters, Sierra, then 16, and Chloe, then 6, began to think about how they could make an impact for all the kids who had to spend time in the hospital over the holidays. They decided on a toy drive, hoping to bring a little cheer to each child who couldn’t be in their own homes during the holiday season.
“When they told me they wanted to do this, I said we’d have to call up the hospital and find out how to get started,” says Michelle, Savannah’s mom. “We learned there were 500 beds in the hospital, so that became the number of toys they wanted to collect.”
It seemed overwhelming, but Savannah and her sisters helped spread the word by hosting a Giving Hope fundraiser called Cheer 4 Savannah. Using Giving Hope resources like a personal online fundraising page, fundraising tips, banners, flyers, star icons and more, the girls asked for support from their cheerleading squads, local businesses, schools and anyone who would listen.
“What really helped was just being able to share my story,” Savannah says. “There were lots of ways to do that, and I think using the resources from the Giving Hope program helped make the toy drive a success.”
By using the Giving Hope fundraising tips, and partnering with local businesses, the family was able to surpass their goal eight times over – donating more than 4,000 toys to Cincinnati Children’s.
Since the first toy drive, Chloe has been diagnosed with the same brain condition as Savannah and will also need surgery. This has only encouraged the girls to give back more. They have grown their fundraiser and are raising money to renovate a playground space at Cincinnati Children’s.
Chloe has even hosted her own fundraiser at her elementary school. She sold Giving Hope star icons to classmates, teachers and the community. All the money she raised through those sales and donations to her Giving Hope fundraising page were donated to the Child Life Program at Cincinnati Children’s, which helps to provide toys and entertainment for kids in the hospital.
“I think if you want to help Cincinnati Children’s, it’s a great way to start,” Savannah says of the Giving Hope program.