A Little Sunshine

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Mirrors Sophomore Honorary was an amazing time of my life—it gave me friends, experiences, taught me life lessons and sparked in me an idea, one that would build into a fire and a passion and the mark that I will leave at Ohio State. Kindness. I wanted to spread it, and my way was KindCarts Service Initiative.

KindCarts (Kindness on the Carts) began as service projects in Mirrors. As a Restful Nights volunteer, I traveled the floors of the James Cancer Hospital from 6-8pm, speaking with patients and giving them amenities, like earplugs and eye masks to make them more comfortable. The patients were so inspiring, smiling through IVs and treatments, through stressful days and sleepless nights. I wanted to do more. I wanted to give them a little pick-me-up, something to make their room and day a little cheerier. So many patients missed out on pumpkin picking, a common tradition and due to their treatments, live plants weren’t allowed in the hospital. As a result, I planned to create little paper pumpkins to celebrate fall and bring it into their room. The first project had only three volunteers working for an hour. We made 26 pumpkins.

It was perfect.

The pumpkins were gone within two hours, with patients asking for more. They broke out into grins, spent time deciding just where in the room to put it and asking how they were made. Those pumpkins meant more than an hour’s time. They meant hope and happiness, a quick grin and a short word that turned into a conversation about their families and traditions and loves.

From there, I sought to make KindCarts a sustainable reality. A way to continuously make pick-me-ups for the patients’ holidays, special occasions and everyday celebrations. Budgets and grants underwent multiple drafts. I applied twice for USG (Undergraduate Student Government) funding. I felt dejected but revived with each “We regret to inform you.” But, even as I sought support, I continued on, creating holiday cards and valentines. I networked and planned collaborations with Morrill’s 14th Floor Familia and MUNDO at OSU.

The last grant I applied for were the Honors and Scholars Academic Enrichment Grants. I have no words to accurately explain what I felt like to receive a “Congratulations!” that made the daydream real.

Since then, we’ve undertaken 10 projects and only continued to grow. We’ve planned collaborations with RAs and student organizations, with more currently being finalized. We even offer a program stressing the impact of grassroots service. You can see some of our creations above, from bookmarks, to stress-relief kits, to mini Hope Gardens. Constant improvement drives me to continue applying for grants to expand our tools, our scope. The next objective is to make the creation of rice bags possible. These pouches can act both as heating and cooling pads to control pain and discomfort, and would let KindCarts contribute to the patients’ physical well-being, as well as their emotional.

KindCarts is my way to give back. Along my way, I have been given so many hands, so many opportunities and so many small kindnesses. I want to return that to the community. Especially to the community that inspires me, a community that continuously needs sweetness and hope and light. There’s power in a bookmark. There’s power in a card celebrating the season, in a matchbox present with “You’re awesome!” written on the inside. There’s power in the dozens of volunteers who have given their time and in the hundreds of donations that we have made.

To some, this picture is just a group of crafts. But to me, this is warmth. This is a laugh; this is a kind word, this is meaningful. This is sunshine.

 

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