Monday, November 25, 2013

Lovies4Littles: An Extraordinary Cause for Extraordinary Kids +Interview

Hello, lovelies,

For many, November is a time of celebration and family. That is nowhere as true as it is for parents of ill children. Family, friends, and strong support networks are one of the biggest blessings in the lives of those with chronic or terminally ill children. With November being Prematurity Awareness Month in addition to Thanksgiving, I wanted to spotlight another organization doing amazing things for children: Lovies4Littles.

I was introduced to this organization recently and have fallen in love. They handmake and donate beautiful blankets and stuffed animals for chronic and terminally ill children all over the nation. Check out the interview with Danielle Silva, founder of Lovies4Littles below, and then hop over to their page to see some of the amazing work they and the phenomenal kids they support!




Danielle is a 36 year old single mom of seven kids residing in Northern California. She is ex-Navy, ex-Army National Guard and now a disabled veteran. Her second child was born in 1999 with a craniofacial disorder called Saethre-Chotzen Syndrome. Weeks after her 2nd child's birth, she became a single parent.

In 2002, she met Thomas, and together they combined their family, her two children, his three, and added five. Ten kids total, each with their own varying disorders. Down Syndrome, Autism, PDD-NOS, ODD, Peri-ventricular Leukomylasia, Anxiety, Preemies and Micro-preemie.

Her youngest child, Solange, was born in 2008 at 23 weeks weighing 25 ounces. In 2011, Danielle became a single parent again.

Lovies4littles was started as a way to give back. With help from a friend, Lovies4Littles was born. The initial aim of the organization was to provide blankets to NICU babies, and quickly grew to encompass any child with a chronic or terminal illness.

Starting in February, 2013 with a page on Facebook, L4L has since grown to nearly 10,000 fans. L4L has provided blankets and shirts for nearly 600 kids worldwide, including providing Lovies for NICU babies at Sutter Hospital, Davis Hospital, and Mercy San Juan in Sacramento, CA.

Please help me welcome Danielle Silva, creator of Lovies4Littles, to tell us more about herself and the organization.


Q: What is Lovies4Littles?

A: L4L personalizes blankets for chronically or terminally ill children all over the world. We also make them for anyone, with the proceeds helping to fund donated blankets and consumables/costs of machines, etc.

Q: What prompted you to start Lovies4Littles? How did the cause grow?

A: I helped a friend make blankets for the NICU where her child was born. I bought a machine and started making them for people I knew. I made a FB page and it took off from there.

Q: How many people are involved in making the blankets? Is it just you or do you have other volunteers?

A: The blankets are all designed and embroidered by me. All my kids help in some way or another whether it be helping pick patterns, colors, blankets, etc.
 
Q: How many blankets does L4L typically donate each year?

A: So far we have helped several "Pages" on Facebook with fundraisers for treatments and expenses. We have also donated over 300 blankets. We find sponsors for those who want a blanket but cannot afford one.  The sponsor pays the blanket and embroidery costs and the shipping. Then the child chooses what they want.

Q: How can others get involved?

A: We are always looking for people to help with sponsoring a child. We currently have a waiting list of children. A sponsorship is $30 and pays for the blanket, Embroidery of child's choice and shipping. Only about $1-2 per blanket is left and it goes into the machine upkeep and payments.

Q: What's your favorite part of Lovies4Littles?

A: My favorite part is coming on the page or opening a message to see a pic of a child with their lovie. The genuine happiness and smiles you see on their face when you look past the medical issues they face. It is a moment of pure joy in something many take for granted. A moment where their illness doesn't matter. At least for a few minutes

Q: As a mom of preemies, I imagine you identify strongly with the kids you support. Do you ever get to meet any of the kids you make blankets for? What is that like for you?
 
A: I have met a few kids and my heart melts for them. Even if I have not met them in person, I meet them through their stories and photos, and my heart breaks each time I have to announce a passing of one of our kids. What helps me through that is knowing L4L provided comfort for them in a time of need and now the parents have something special of their child's to hold and keep with them.

Q: In addition to blankets, what else does Lovies4Littles create?

A: We make stuffed animals and do t-shirts and direct-to-garment printing. We can make hats, totes, and much, much more. We also work with Bloodline Boards, which is a local longboard company, by printing their boards and helping with special prints that has proceeds going to help fight sex trafficking of young girls.

Q: Do you have any advice for those who want to get more involved with a cause like this or with volunteerism in general?

A: Go to your local hospital, ask the NICU or PICU what they need. Sometimes just donations of books or Dollar Tree toys can make a child's day better. They cannot experience the joys of a dollar toy while out with mom or a candy bar for being good in the store. They cannot even go to the store.  Donate old game systems for the kids on the floor to use… kids DVDs, anything helps. You can also volunteer.  When I am looking for a sponsor I put a child up on the page. I ask people to check out their page and learn about the child. Then tell them if they feel it in their heart to help the child, then to message me.  Some of these sponsorships have turned into great friendships. No parent should feel alone in their battles.

Q: What's your favorite book? Your favorite author?
 
A: I would have to say the Twilight series. Mostly because after that, I got into Twitter and roleplay and I have met some of the most amazing people through the Twilight Fandom.

Q: If you could do one thing in your life, what would it be?

A: To provide a Lovie (blanket or animal) for every child that asked.

Q: What do you do in your spare time?
 
A: Think of new designs to make and spend time with my kids.

Q: What inspires you?

A: My children. Seeing my daughter's strength through multiple brain/cranial surgeries. Watching more than one of my children fight for every breath we normally take for granted. Watching them succeed over adversity over and over again.

Q: What's the single most empowering piece of advice you've ever been given?

A: To always believe I can do anything that I put my mind to. And that sometimes the right thing is not always the easiest thing but in the end, you are put in someone's life for a reason, make good use of that opportunity

You can learn more about Lovies4Littles at http://www.Lovies4littles.com, or by emailing them at: lovies4littles@live.com. Please don't forget to Like their page for opportunities to help sponsor some of the very special children L4L spends their time supporting. You can also order a blanket for your kiddos from Lovies4Littles. Each purchase helps fund blankets donated to chronic or terminally ill children.

 

xoxo,
Ayden

 

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