We rarely get to see recipients’ reactions to receiving a Read Think Thrive Bag — so when we do it is super awesome! and special Here’s Blake receiving his bag, and Blake’s mom’s comments in her post about it (with permission to share). THIS is why we do what we do, this makes all the work worth it.
WOOHOO! I am so excited about today’s delivery to CHOC Children’s Hospital and ECBC’s re-launching of several of our book/reading programs after a six month hiatus (since all of our programs have been on hold because they have depended on volunteers). Now, thanks to CHOC’s awesome outpatient oncology nurse manager Ali Langdon and staff who are willing to store, manage, and deliver books for us, we can get books into patients’ hands in Covid-safe ways! Today, we dropped off the first installment of our Read Think Thrive Book Bags to be given to kids as they are diagnosed with cancer This is the first time we’ve been able to store these bags on site, and so it will be the first time we will actually be able to get the bags to all kids as they are diagnosed (a Covid-inspired improvement!). Additionally, today we also delivered supplies to start offering a brand new program for teen cancer warriors and survivors — a virtual book club (called Teens Thrive Reading Group and curated by ECBC now-teen co-founder Ethan) that includes gifting teens who want to participate with a new Kindle and monthly e-books. We can’t wait to grow this club into a safe space for teens to share their thoughts about both literary and personal stories! Finally, we created and delivered our new CHOC Oncology Outpatient Library (COOL) Cart filled with 250 curated books organized by book type, to be wheeled to patients’ rooms (oncology patients and kids with other chronic illnesses) while they are receiving infusions at CHOC’s Outpatient Infusion Center (OPI). In the past, ECBC’s book deliveries to OPI went on open shelves for patients to grab. With this new Covid-safe method, nurses will offer books personally to every patient/caregiver, encouraging them to take a break from screens and other activities to do a bit of reading/reading aloud.
Which gets me to the 29th (of 30) way that ECBC has helped hospitalized kids thrive — through providing books to kids at their OPI visits — now in a way that is much more personal and will result in significantly more books being gifted than before (there are 150 patient visits to OPI per week!). If you haven’t yet supported BOOK IT (which ends tomorrow) and would like to donate to help fund and sustain the OPI book cart, please go to runsignup.com/BOOKIT2020: $10 provides one book for the cart, $50 provides five books, $1000 provides one shelf of books; and $2500 re-stocks the entire cart (which will last approximately 1-3 weeks). We need your help more than ever, especially since we are not receiving any help from school book fairs and book drives which typically have provided most of our gifting library books! THANK YOU for supporting BOOK IT, ECBC’s new and re-launched programs, and helping to honor cancer warriors during Childhood Cancer Awareness Month!
Yesterday ECBC had its first Read Think Thrive (RTT) Bag Mega Packaging Day, where 120 of our book bags were packaged by teen Girl Scouts so they could be delivered to CHOC Children’s Hospital next week. These bags contain ten new, high-quality books curated by the age and gender of the recipient, along with new art supplies (crayons, colored pencils, markers, paints, clay), various mediums for literature-based creative projects, and miscellaneous items including bookmarks, reading lights, and care cards with personal messages from youth volunteers. With their delivery to CHOC next week, this will be the first time that ECBC will have a supply of RTT Bags on site at the hospital, which (with the help of amazing CHOC staff) will allow us to finally accomplish our goal to get a book bag to EVERY new cancer diagnosis at CHOC.
THANK YOU to the awesome girls in Troop #2695 and Troop #3115 for the prep work you did leading up to the event we well as for your hard work yesterday! And, a HUGE shout out to 14-year old Girl Scout Senior Abigail Tweedt and Troop 2695 leader Sandy Tweedt: Abigail for your tremendous leadership and work you did leading up to packaging day, and Sandy for leading girls in the Silver Project (under especially difficult circumstances given Covid restrictions) and your invaluable ongoing commitment to ECBC. This day could not have happened without you!
All ECBC program’s have been on hold for the past two months per CHOC Children’s Hospital’s COVID-19 rules, as all of our programs require our volunteers to visit the hospital. We all miss being able to get high-quality books and reading to patients, especially to the kids who are enduring long and/or hard battles. So, Ethan and I were thrilled yesterday when we had the opportunity to hand off a Read+Think+Thrive Bag to Ethan’s oncologist at CHOC so that she could deliver it to an eight-year-old girl who was just diagnosed with cancer. Not the usual way we receive book bag requests (the request came from Ethan’s oncologist during his own Zoom oncology visit) and not our typical delivery method (the hand-off happened in the CHOC parking lot outside the entrance to the oncology clinic, rather than by volunteer delivery inside the hospital)… but it felt so good to be able to give the the gift of reading to this young girl. We have so missed doing this!
As an aside, note our use of a “book bag” rather than “book box”. This is the first time that Read+Think+Thrive supplies (books and book-crafting items) were packaged in a bag! A few months ago, CHOC’s Infectious Disease department informed us that we could no longer use cardboard boxes, so we are now transitioning to a “Read+Think+Thrive Bag” rather than box. We will miss the kid/largely Girl Scout- decorated boxes, but we are super excited about this bag — which is more functional (kids can actually re-use it) and can provide a tangible reminder for kids to bring books with them to their hospital visits. We think they look pretty great too! (Thanks to Emily Frye!)
A HUGE thank you to 7th graders Morgan, Sam, and Delaney for choosing to support ECBC’s Read+Think+Thrive (RTT) Box program for their Girl Scout Silver Award project!
Theses three girls, who are part of Girl Scout Troop #2908, fundraised, book-raised, and contributed many hours to be able to fund and assemble fifteen RTT Boxes for middle school-aged kids at CHOC Children’s Hospital who are diagnosed with cancer (10 girl boxes, 5 boy boxes).
In the months leading up to their packaging day, the girls worked super hard. They set up their own online book drive to collect needed titles for middle school boxes. They made a promotional video, shared it on social media, linked it to their own Amazon wish list of books, and collected and kept track of book titles that were sent to them. They also fundraised and raised $900 to go towards purchasing books as well as the art supplies that go in each box. In addition, they (1) beautifully decorated eight sides and flaps of each of 15 boxes with ECBC-themed quotes and artwork; (2) completed Thrive Buddy responses by creatively responding to a book in each box to help motivate box recipients to participate in Ethan’s Read+Think+Thrive Challenge; and (3) designed and made their own reading-themed laminated bookmarks to add in each box as gifts specifically from them.
This week, after months of hard work (and surpassing the Mini Box Packaging Day requirement of providing funds/materials for at least 10 boxes), the girls gathered to pack the15 boxes they funded. In two hours, they assembled and taped the boxes; added bookplates to books with donor names; wrote personalized “Care Cards” with notes to recipients and packaged the cards in baggies with two ECBC Book Bands; assembled packets of ECBC promotional materials; and packed all 15 boxes with the variety of items they collected and created. Reading lights were added as well — Thanks to Max Stahl for funding these as part of his 8th grade community service project! After the two hours were done, 15 beautifully decorated boxes filled with high-quality books and a variety of other reading-related treats were ready to go! THANK YOU Morgan, Sam, and Delaney for your initiative, creativity, hard work, and commitment to this project —- we appreciate your support so much!
Click HERE to check out Ethan’s 20 second time-lapse video of 2/3 of the 2 hour box packaging session!
We’re excited to now have a great supply of middle school boxes ready to go! We need an equal number of boxes for all other age groups (infant/toddler, preschool, early elementary, upper elementary, high school). If there’s a youth or philanthropic group out there who’s interested in working on a mini-packaging day for your group (minimum requirement is to fundraise and/or book-raise to cover 10 boxes — about $1000), please get in touch by emailing Ali@ECbookclub.com!
In this video, Ethan thanks our donors from December 2017. He also starts off this year of monthly book request videos by describing the focus of his book requests for 2018, which is to request books specifically for his book boxes (called Read+Think+Thrive Boxes) for SuperKids diagnosed with cancer or other life-threatening illnesses. As you’ll learn in this video, each month Ethan will share his list of Ten Thrive Titles that are needed to fill a book box for each of 12 ageX gender categories. Here, he shares the Ten Thrive Titles that are needed for preschool-aged boys. Books can be purchased and sent directly to Ethan & Choco’s Book Club by clicking on this link on amazon, or they can be purchased online from our local bookstore and amazing partner, Once Upon a Storybook. Each book box also comes with art and writing supplies so that kids can respond creatively to the books — these art supplies can be donated as well by clicking here. Thank you for helping ECBC reach our goal of providing a book box to every new cancer diagnosis at CHOC Children’s Hospital!
We mailed another Read+Think+Thrive Box today! This time to Maine, to 7-year-old Brock—who is battling a rare form of brain cancer. Brock’s favorite holiday is Halloween, so we sent him one of our book boxes filled with 10 of our favorite Halloween-themed books. We hope this box adds some joy to Brock’s Halloween!
Ethan delivered another Read+Think+Thrive (RTT) Box yesterday at CHOC Children’s Hospital, this time to a 6 1/2 year old boy named Alexander who was just diagnosed with Leukemia this week. The box contained some of our favorite books for first grade boys, including picture books, a beginning reading book, transitional chapter books, a family chapter book read aloud, and a nonfiction book. It also contained a RTT Toolbox with art supplies and Ethan’s RTT Challenge to respond through art to one of the books in the box. And, Ethan enclosed a personal note advising the new Leukemia warrior to “Keep reading” through treatment.
As was the case last month when we delivered a reading box to Carter after he relapsed, Ethan was so proud to be able to deliver Alexander’s book box. Selecting the books, writing the note, carrying the heavy box while he himself is tired due to the effects of steroids this week. He’s glowing as he does it all, knowing so well how much books have helped him get through his own battle.
After this delivery, we decided that we’re going to reach out to CHOC to figure out how to get RTT Boxes in the hands of every newly diagnosed oncology patient at CHOC. This will be another way to get books in the hands of hospitalized kids as we await volunteer approval for our bedside reading program. And it will be putting books in kids hands at a time when they need it most — when they feel the worst, are missing school, and likely have no books with them.
Please stay posted as we work with CHOC to systematically get our Read+Think+Thrive Boxes to every kid who is diagnosed with cancer. And for ways that you can help us do that!
Thank you Girl Scout Troop #3115 for providing our first supply of reading boxes!!
Ethan was SO happy to drop off a Read+Think+Thrive (RTT) Box for his fellow Leukemia Warrior buddy Carter at CHOC today! After 648 days of treatment, Carter found out two weeks ago that his Leukemia relapsed — so he is now back inpatient and starting this battle all over again at Day 1. Ethan received chemo at the Outpatient Infusion Center this afternoon, and then we walked the box over to the hospital lobby to be delivered to Carter’s room (we could not personally deliver it, since Ethan is immuno-compromised and Carter is in isolation). Ethan was super proud of this box, because he got to personally curate the variety of great titles that went in it — including picture books, beginning chapter books, and a family chapter book read aloud.
Books and reading gave Ethan more opportunities to think hard, connect with others, and travel to other worlds while he was in the hospital. What a joy it is to be able to share this with other kids!!
We’re behind you Carter! READ, THINK, AND THRIVE!!!