It’s the most Wonderful Time of the Year!



The late November through December holidays, that many of us respectfully celebrate – whether it’s Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, and/or other traditions – tend to be some of the most enduring moments and memories made in our lives (FILL-IN-THE-BLANKS!).

And yet – the uplifting joy of these cold seasonal holidays, can also feel lonely and isolating for those who are hurting, in need, or have experienced recent loss.

Every winter break since 2001, my family has been blessed to partner with amazing local friends, family, neighbors, and our awesome 912  family to help bring joy to hospitalized local children in Palm Beach County. When these kids see the wagons and boxes with all your generous GIFTS – you help bring some MASSIVE, unexpected smiles to these precious babies, toddlers, children, and teens.

And wow, for the PARENTS – it can be overwhelming. For a brief moment, they feel like “somebody” out there in South Florida cares about the private burden their hearts carry for their children during the “happy holidays”.

I would like to share just a “few” of this year’s personal stories…

– Lorena, age 16. She was so happy to get a simple deck of CARDS – and a warm pair of SOCKS. (You DO know how COLD those hospitals are kept LOL).

– Matthew, age 3. Surrounded by family, he picked out a brand new toy FIRE TRUCK. Excitedly, he asked his mom to take out her smartphone – he asked to take a *PICTURE* of everybody after we sang “We Wish You A Merry Christmas” to his family! LOL

– TWINS – two 2-year old sisters, Genesis and Joanna. Can you imagine BOTH of your babies in the hospital? They got puzzles and dolls.

– Gabrielle, a newborn girl just 5 DAYS OLD, and a tiny 6 pounds – fighting her infant illness from the blue illuminated glow inside her incubator. Her mother Lisa was at her side, guarding her firstborn child. She just cried openly with us – this young mother was just so powerfully touched by thoughtful strangers. She asked if we believe in prayer – so together we prayed at her small daughter’s side for the miracle her small daughter needs…

– Hadley, a 13-month old baby girl with HUUUUGE blue eyes. Respiratory problems. Its so hard to hear that labored breathing. Mmm.

– Tanya, 11 month old girl – her family speaks mostly Spanish in the home. My daughters led the room in a chorus of “Feliz Navidad”, and WOW – little Tanya’s spirits lifted quickly!! Great fun.

– Jamie, 5 months old . Whew. He was alone in the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) – and I just whispered a quiet prayer of hope for his recovery. I placed a safe stuffed animal beside this small infant boy, and suddenly he struggled visibly on his little face, when – BOOM – his big, brown eyes popped WIDE open. And he just ‘stared’ back at me, so innocently, with those dark brown eyes – 5 months old, a baby. I whispered softly to Jamie that I would not forget him – and that other people care about him too during this holiday. Jamie just tore me up.

– Joseph, age 3. In the ER. He was the first kid we saw there. He saw our toys, and finger pointed, exclaimed, “BOOK!!!” Even the nurse laughed. His parents said he loves books more than anything, and that’s what he wanted for Christmas.

– George, age 11.  Had a massive scrape across his face (OUCH!) from wiping out on his bicycle. He was a tough kid – but not too cool to smile – or take a toy truck home.

– The last person to get a gift this year, was a grown ADULT… LOL! “January” (yes, her real name LOL), a woman in her mid-40s in the ER watched the joyful commotion with keen interest. When we exited the ER, I saw her looking kind of lonesome. “Are you okay?” I asked. She kind of nodded forlornly. She just moved to South Florida to start her life over, after a bad relationship gone wrong, and has no family here. “Would YOU like a little something for the holiday?” I asked. She nodded yes, and with a bashful smile she said, “Awe… yeah. I need a TEDDY BEAR!” She smiled at the beige bear and said, “I’m going to name him, ‘HOLIDAY’…” – and so she did.

Thanks to Tathyana for walking us through the hospital again, like last year. Interestingly – my 15-year old daughter was just diagnosed with Type I Diabetes this past year… and amidst a very painful personal time for us, it was powerful to see this hospital be able to give something back to my family when WE were in need. So, thank you to the kind, skilled and competent staff at Palms West Childrens Hospital. We are fortunate to have them in our community.

THANK YOU – everybody at the South Florida 912 For helping make a difference special thanks to the Shields family Candi Kayce and Sean, Mj Dunstan, Dan Guetheon for helping us deliver the prayers and good wishes and a SPECIAL THANKS TO Janice for her beautiful hand made cards:)  WOW!

God Bless and Merry Christmas and Happy new Year!!!

Doug, Shannon, Tyler, Alexa, and Hunter Armstrong


One Response to “It’s the most Wonderful Time of the Year!”
  1. Susan Foley says:

    a beautiful expression of love to strangers this special season as we celebrate the greatest love!

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