MORGANZA, Md. – Alex Williams, one of the founders of “Sending Smiles”, is a Junior at Chopticon High School. She and her sister Ashley created the nonprofit organization when she was 9, and her sister was 12.
What Sending Smiles does is best described by Alex, “We get people around the world to decorate crazy fun postcards, and we send them to sick kids in need.”
Alex explained the postcards are shipped to children in hospitals and Ronald McDonald Houses.
She described how she first came up with the idea to send postcards:
“When I was little, I was scared of doctors, and I wanted to brighten the day of kids who were sick. My sister and I decided to start making cards. We got our cousins to do it with us during cousin camp, and then my mom got some local schools to help, and then it just kept growing. We received a check from a local elementary school and then decided it was no longer a family project, and we applied to be a nonprofit charity.”
“As of today, we’ve sent 66,926 cards.”
Alex described the process to get involved with the organization, “You can request cards on our website at www.sendingsmiles2sis.com and decorate as little or as many as you want. We ship them to you with an addressed envelope to send back. If you are unable to pay to have the cards shipped back to us, we will email you a postage-paid label. The cards come with directions about decorating the cards. You can write jokes, words of encouragement, or draw pictures but what we don’t want is for you to write is “get well or feel better”. We want the cards to allow the kids to forget what they are going through for a minute and to just smile or laugh.”
Schools and sports teams are getting heavily involved in the organization, according to Alex.
“We get requests from teachers or principals. Then the schools will give the cards to the students and they will create/decorate the card however they want. Over the years we’ve had at least one class from every school in St. Mary’s County,” said Alex.
“We now have local teams helping us- Chopticon, Lackey, Thomas Stone, Patuxent, Northern….. We also have colleges across the US such as VT, UNC-Chapel Hill, Yale, Flagler, Radford, JMU, St Mary’s, and many more,” she said.
Alex even mentioned that former Pittsburgh Steelers player, Jack Lambert, is a “Smile Maker”.
Alex described how the organization has impacted herself and those she helped ‘send smiles’ to.
“One little girl I will never forget was Ruby. She was very sick but now has been in remission for a couple years. Knowing that we helped her get through a difficult time is what keeps us going.”
Alex also provided some messages that were sent to them from the loved ones of those who received postcards from Sending Smiles:
“My daughter has been in remission now for a full two years!! We continue to count our blessings each and every day. We are grateful that Sending Smiles came through for us during the most difficult of times. They are angels on earth, sending smiles every step of the way!! Kathi”
“The moment in life where you aren’t sure where or when the next smile will be, Sending Smiles will give it. I know this because it happened to me as I cared for my husband during his recovery of a vehicle accident. The small moments of encouragement in the toughest moments of life mean the most to the child suffering and the family caring and fighting for that child. I just can’t say enough about sending smiles. I wish everyone could know what the power these postcards can have on a person during their time of need. I still have one of the postcards. I still lol at it and think of how much it helped and encouraged me to keep going.
Sending Smiles has gotten colleges, sports teams, teachers, girl and boy scouts, businesses, schools, and almost every state in the U.S. to participate and decorate cards.
Visit their website www.sendingsmiles2sis.com for more information on the organization.
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