Our friends and families gave in ways big, small and surprising in 2012—from donating hundreds of hours, to hosting a birthday party in honor of Children’s, to buying a meaningful item from our Giving Store. When they gave to us, they gave to kids. Because here at Children’s, every cent is kid spent.

During the next 12 days, we’ll show you how individuals, families and organizations gave to Children’s. We’ll post a new story each day here, on Facebook and on Pinterest. We hope these amazing stories will touch your heart as much as they have ours.

facebook day1Dec. 14
Ben Arnold had a bumpy start. Born at 24 weeks, he spent significant time in Children’s NICU. His doctor said Ben would be okay once he weighed more than his medical record. Today, Ben is a thriving 16-year-old, member of his diving/swimming team, an avid skier and snowboarder, dirt bike rider and band member. His family participates in our annual Baby Steps event. During the holidays, he donates to Children’s. He understands the direct impact Children’s has had on his personal success story, says his mom.

facebook day2Dec. 15
Amanda and Scott Hedin founded Eden’s Garden in memory of their daughter, Eden, who passed away after 241 days in the hospital. Eden and her sister Reagan were born premature. While Reagan progressed and left Children’s after 194 days, Eden required a double lung transplant at Texas Children’s Hospital. While waiting for the transplant, she passed away. “Eden’s fighting spirit, beautiful telling eyes and infectious smile will never be forgotten,” Amanda says. The Hedin family recently brought Christmas early to the NICU with a wagon full of toys, books and other items from our wish list. The mission of Eden’s Garden is to provide families resources and support during their journey in the NICU. “Our girls taught us more about love and sacrifice than any other experience in our lives,” Amanda says. You can learn more on their blog: http://ow.ly/g6Hl9

12days day4Dec. 16
Walgreens gives to Children’s year-round. The company held ice cream socials on both campuses, funded a $25,000 room in our Emergency Department in Minneapolis, helped sponsor our annual HeartBeat 5000 event, participated in the Grand Avenue sCares for Kids campaign and provided employee volunteers at numerous events.

12days day4Dec. 17 
As his mom prepared invitations for his birthday party this year, 8-year-old Kole declared he wanted to help kids with cancer. After doing some research, he decided to help patients at Children’s and asked for cash donations instead of presents. He received $375 at his birthday party. Armed with the cash donations and a $50 gift card contribution from Walmart, he purchased $425 worth of toys for our patients. “It was an amazing experience for him and all of us! Imagine if every kid did that for just one of their birthday parties??!!” says his mom, Karla.

12days day5Dec. 18
At just 13, Mason Stoltz is quickly on his way to becoming an Eagle Scout. In order to earn the rank, he had to do a project and wanted to help out Children’s. Mason is on the Youth Advisory Council and his sister, Katherine, was cared for at Children’s after she was born 15 weeks early. After talking with one of our Child Life Specialists, Mason decided to make MRI and CT scan models that specialists could use when they explain the procedure to patients. With the help of friends, family and even strangers, Mason spent 189 hours researching and building the models. He donated 22 of them – along with dolls – to Children’s. “An MRI looks really scary to kids,” Mason said. “The models will hopefully bring a lot of comfort to them.”

12days day6Dec. 19
Few things brighten a patient’s visit more than a visit from one of our furry volunteers in our Pets Assisting with Healing program. We’re lucky to have 30 pet teams dedicated to helping patients feel better. Some pets visit kids on inpatient floors, waiting rooms and various departments throughout the hospital. Others assist kids meeting their goals during speech, occupational and physical therapy sessions.

12days day6Dec. 20
Because Noah Parker was born 15 weeks early, weeks passed before his parents could hold him. When they did, they used Kangaroo Care -- placing him diaper clad on their bare chests, tummy to tummy, with his ear just above their hearts. Sadly, Noah was diagnosed with Pulmonary Vein Stenosis and went to Boston Children’s Hospital for treatment and surgery. Because of the severity of his condition, the surgery was unsuccessful and he passed away. ”Even though our time with him was short, the memories we do have of doing Kangaroo Care with him will go on forever,” Noah’s dad says. Noah’s parents believe Kangaroo Care helped Noah. Because of that, they donate money to Children’s for a kangaroo chair from the Giving Store in memory of their son.

12days day6Dec. 21 
Erik’s Tournament for the Heart is inspired by Erik, who was born with Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome, which is a form of Congenital Heart Disease. Erik has undergone three open-heart surgeries since he was born in 2006. His family hosts the golf tournament with proceeds going directly to support Children’s cardiovascular program and other kids born with CHD. “Erik continues to amaze us every day. It’s hard to look back on where he has been knowing that there is no clear future for children with HLHS, but that will never be used as an excuse for him,” his parents say.

12days day6Dec. 22 
This past August, Lisa Witt was diagnosed with breast cancer. It was the kind of moment when “you realize you are not invincible,” she says. During a run one morning, she decided it was time to “pull it together.” She decided to run a half-marathon before her surgery to raise money. Though she was battling cancer, she thought about how heartbreaking it would be to have a child going through it. “Having two children of my own, I could relate to this fear. Our son Ian, now 6, was born with Down Syndrome and spent his first month at Children's. That was scary enough,” she says. She raised $1,500, which was matched by her company WittFitt LLC, and donated it to Children’s. The money is being allocated to several programs including Art Out of the Box and The Cancer Kids Fund. “I wanted to have the money spent on making not only the kids' lives better, but their parents' lives easier as well,” she says.

12days day6Dec. 23
We can’t do what we do without the help of some very special people. So far in 2012, 1,699 volunteers have dedicated their time to Children’s. The dollar value of that time? More than $729,000! Those volunteers play video games with the patients, make arts and crafts in the Sibling Play Area, bring books to patient rooms, and offer storytelling time.

12days day6Dec. 24 
Fourth-graders from the International Spanish Language Academy in Minnetonka raised nearly $770 after opening Mercado Central, where they made and sold their own art work including jewelry, wood decoupage and drawings. Students also collected old books and had a smoothie stand for customers. It was up to the students how to spend their profit. After voting, they decided to celebrate their success with a pizza party and give the rest of the money to Children’s and one other nonprofit.

Children's Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota

Dec. 25 
At Children’s, when you give to us, we give to kids. Thank you for helping us help kids in 2012. See your generosity in action here: https://vimeo.com/40886479

Inspired by these amazing stories? You can help provide comfort to kids and families like these by making a donation today. Thank you for helping us provide local kids with some of the best medical care in the world.