This month is all about the heart and love. Since I will always be a “Heart Mom”, it’s important to our family to give back during February in honour of Heart Month and Valentine’s Day. The heart means something very special in our family, as our son Zack was born with a Congenital Heart Defect and received life-saving heart surgery when he was just 2 weeks old. Too sick to wait until he got bigger, on October 2nd, 2007 our littlest twin fought for his life during surgery and recovery. In fact, after his surgery, his heart was too swollen to fit into his tiny body and his chest stayed open until it was safer to close the incision.
Paul and I walked into the Cardiac Critical Care Unit at SickKids one morning, post-surgery, to see his exposed beating heart through clear tape. If I had seen this on a tv show, I would have surely lost my appetite for the day…however, knowing that he had endured the surgery that would save his life and that we were witnessing this miracle with our own eyes was incredibly surreal and beautiful.
Zack wore his “zipper” scar with pride for his 3 short years. I know that while some people might have stared when we were out at a waterpark or at swimming lesson, I was so proud of what that scar meant to us. That surgery gave us our son to love for 3 years. We had three years of memories because of that miracle at SickKids.
I know that our connection to Heart Month makes it extremely important for our family to give back in appreciation for Zack’s life. While SickKids is our favourite way to celebrate Valentine’s Day, I found some other incredible ways to donate, share love and help those in need this February.
1. Sick Kids Foundation has set up some Heartfelt gifts to give to your children instead of candy, chocolate and stuffed animals. For $20 you can provide Valentine’s Day art supplies for children in the hospital or help monitor a child’s heart saturation levels for $40. This could be a great classroom gift too!
2. World Vision has such an amazing selection of items that you can purchase for a little as $30. We already loved their online catalogue from our Christmas donation, but why not use it for EVERY holiday or birthday? Warm winter clothing, mosquito nets or even a goat are gifts that help children in need around the world should be on everyone’s Valentine’s Day wish list.
3. Jewelery is a popular item to give at Valentine’s Day, but did you know that Me to We has a Valentine’s collection? Beautiful red beaded earrings, rafikis bracelets (friendship bracelets) and heart keychains are my favourites! Every bead and stitch of their products are handmade by mamas in Kenya, connecting you with her personal story. They also make an impact in a community overseas, improving livelihoods. There’s even a lovely bonus! With any $75 purchase, you will also get a free heart keychain made by incredible women around the world.
4. How amazing are these cool shirts and accessories from Sevenly for your valentine? Shirts that say “Be Kind” or “Love” plus jewelery with beautiful messages. Wouldn’t these make a lovely gift (hope Paul’s reading this).
5. Support AIDS research, prevention and treatment on the ground. Every day over 650 babies are born with HIV. Yet with access to anti-retroviral treatment, and with your help, we can prevent the transmission of the virus from moms to babies. Without it, 50% of babies will die before their second birthday. Through your purchases on the (RED) Shop site, you can make a difference to those infected with HIV and AIDS. Adorable tshirts, Jonathan Alder candles, and tons of Apple products are just some of the choices on this all RED site.
I hope this has inspired you to give those you love a special gift from the heart.
Happy Valentine’s Day!