Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Toy Drive

The toy drive was a huge success! Jack and I got there very early and were able to do a live tv interview. This was such an amazing marketing opportunity for the charity. I should be getting a video clip of it soon, and will post it when I get it! For those of you that saw it on tv, I hope you got a kick out of seeing Jack cruising around on a hospital-bed-turned-Santa's-sleigh with Aaron Wilson.

Jack and I were asked to give a speech to the ambassadors of the hospital and the other donors to the toy drive. It seemed a little daunting at first, to be giving a speech to 100+ people, but Jack was up for the challenge. Who was I to stop him? :) We were asked to share Jack's story of what he's been through and what it is like to be a family with a child in the hospital. We also got to share the story of the charity, how it started, and what we do. The repsonse we received was fabulous. People were truly touched by Jack's resilience and inspired by his desire to give back to others.

Here's a video of the speech. It's about 5 minutes long, Jack's part is shortly after 3:30.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Holiday Toy Drive

This Wednesday we are participating in the Rockford Memorial Holiday Toy Drive! We are THRILLED to be donating all of this to the deserving kids that will be spending their holidays in the hospital.

As a family that has been through a hospital stay, our hearts go out to those that are spending their holidays inpatient. It lifts our spirits to know that we can help those families out and hopefully provide them with some happiness during their tough times!

Jack and I have been asked to speak at the toy drive. We're thrilled for the opportunity to share Jack's story and introduce our charity. Wish us luck! We will be doing a short interview with Aaron Wilson at 6:43 that morning. If you have a chance, turn your tv on!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Busy, Busy!

Lots of updating to do! We had a spectacular fundraiser at the Holiday Bazaar. We raised over $500!!!! All of that money is going to the Rockford Memorial Holiday toy drive on December 16th. We are looking forward to delivering carloads of toys to all those kids. At the Holiday Bazaar, Jack was recognized by the Foreston Cardinals Boys Basketball team. They had heard his story and felt inspired to work a little harder because of him. What an honor for a 6 year old boy!!! They gave him a basketball, which they all signed, and he sleeps with it every night. They also gave him a tshirt with his name on it that he's going to proudly wear to one of their basketball games!

We received a letter from Rush University Children's hospital the other day thanking us for our donation of 30 bears. They are using the bears in their pre-surgical program to introduce the kids that are having surgery to doctors wearing scrubs. We were SO excited to hear this, as a family that's been through the pre-surgical program we know how important it is to ease those fears ahead of time.

We also got a surprise nine donation of Build A Bear stuffed animals from a mom's group from Chicago! They heard of our charity and wanted to help. So, they went to Build A Bear and had a blast making bears for us to donate. Thank you so much to Debbie Johansen for giving us this idea.....now is there any mom's groups out there that want to match their donation? Let me know if you're interested.

I got to meet this week with 3 middle schoolers from Spectrum School. They applied and received a $2500 grant through In Youth We Trust program through the Community Foundation of Northern Illinois. The kids had applied for money to buy three video game systems, video games, and fifty teddy bears. All of these will be donated to the local hospital that they chose, RMH. And they aren't stopping there. They want to continue spreading the word of Little Hands Make A Big Difference, so they will be doing some advertising and marketing for us. They have ideas for more fundraisers they want to do...bake sales, candy grams....the sky is the limit with these kids! We are so proud of them and SO happy to have them on our team! Great job guys!

Friday, November 20, 2009


Come and support us this Saturday, from 10-3. Leaf River Complex, 605 Main street. We're selling raffle tickets for $1 or 6/$5. Many vendors have donated fabulous items to be raffled and ALL money raised will go to support the Rockford Memorial Children's Christmas toy drive.

I am about to burst with excitment today. I received a call today from Spectrum school with the news that the amazing middle-schooler-grant-writers were awarded a grant for $2500!!!! We will be working with them to buy items to donate. I believe the plan is to donate video game systems and video games to the pediatric floors, so that the kids in the hospital can play them while they are inpatient. How amazing is that?!?!? Connor, Sarah, and Hunter...we are so proud of you and can not thank you enough. If only kids like you could rule the world...

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Biggest Donation and Big Fundraiser!

Yesterday was a big day, we made our biggest donation yet, 28 stuffed animals to Rush Children's Hospital. This donation was very special to us as Jack has had several surgeries at Rush, including his first one when he was only 6 weeks old. Because of the swine flu, visiting restrictions are very tight so we basically dropped the bears off at a loading dock to the child life specialists and she took care of the rest!

We have been asked to participate in a vendor fair in Leaf River on November 21st. This is very exciting, there are many vendors that will be donating an item to us and we will sell raffle tickets for the items. There will be vendors selling authentic jerseys, jewelry, candles, and much more! All of the money we make will go towards our efforts to support the Rockford Memorial Holiday Toy Drive. If you want to help, please stop by....if you can't make it and want to buy raffle tickets, let me know.

Holiday Express
Saturday, November 21st 10am to 3 pm.
Leaf River Complex, 605 Main Street

Raffle tickets are $1 a piece or $5 for 6 tickets.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

BIG news!

A lot has been going on for Little Hands Make a Big Difference!

I found a lawyer and she is helping me work on all the legal paperwork. Step one is completed, as we just found out today that we are a State of Illinois Corporation!!!!

We have several fundraisers in the near future. Currently we are working with a group of incredible Spectrum School middle schoolers. They are writing a grant to receive money to buy video game systems and video games for a local hospital. They made it past the first step, and are preparing for the next step...an interview! Best of luck to them!

We have been asked to take part of a Vendor Fair on November 21st. I will post more details when I recieve them next week, but the basic info is several vendors will be donating items to us. We will sell raffle tickets and all the money raised is ours to donate!

We have been asked to participate in the Rockford Memorial Holiday Toy Drive. This is an opportunity we are so excited about. It breaks my heart to think of kiddos stuck in the hospital during the holidays and I will do just about anything to lift their spirits. We are raising money to donate toys. Jack's therapy center (Rebound) has asked if they could partner with us in our efforts! Jack and I have been asked to be the guest speakers on the day of the toy drive, I am looking forward to it!

We couldn't be happier with our progress! We will continue to keep you posted on how things are going!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Exciting Stuff!

Last week we made a trip to Build A Bear. 30 more bears. Wow!!!!! They're all waiting to be dressed in their doctor's uniforms and donated! Someone that Jon works with put in a request for a VERY deserving little girl that is fighting leukemia and battling some pretty rough side effects from her treatment. We will definitely make sure we get a very special bear into the hands of someone that can get it to her. The rest of the bears will be going to Rush University hospital in Chicago.

Our charity work has been keeping us busy. We are working REALLY hard on getting 501c non-profit paperwork filed with the government. This is quite the process and anyone who has any experience with doing this, PLEASE let us know! We have called lawyers and accountants and have had no luck finding someone who can do this for us. I am slooooowly trying to work through the paperwork, but it is not easy! I'll get it done eventually, but would love some help if you have experience.

Jack was able to present Little Hands to his school last week. Wow, talk about a proud moment for us! Seeing our little guy up there on the microphone telling his schoolmates why he started his charity and how they can help....ah, it was too much! His amazing school is showing us so much support, it is just fabulous!

I think that's it for now! It still blows my mind that what started as a distraction discussion on a long car ride is turning into all of this! How amazing for us to be able to watch our chilren's hearts grow with a passion for charitable work. I love all the ideas they come up with, they have no inhibitions, no thoughts of "this will never work." I can only hope that the recipients of our charitable efforts feel a fraction of the joy that we do!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Build a Bear

I just got a message from the Build A Bear corporate office. They love our charity and have accepted it into their program. From now on we will receive a discounted rate and special assistance when we go to make our bears.

I am thrilled beyond belief!

Little hands DO make a big difference!!!!!!!!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Sunday, September 13, 2009


This weekend's lemonade stand was a huge success!!! We made lots of money and spread the word about Little Hands. Jack and I had a great time selling lemonade and chit-chatting with one another. We got so much support and encouargement from the employees, students, and parents at Spectrum School....very heart-warming!

He really does love selling his lemonade.

We need to get the ball rolling and get some bears made!!!!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Big Week!

We're keeping busy getting things organized for this weekend. We'll be at Spectrum School at 2909 North Main Street in Rockford on Friday from 4-8 and on Saturday from 11-3. Please stop by for a cup of lemonade and while you're at it do some shopping at Spectrum's bazaar.....100+ family garage sale.

This week is a VERY exciting week for us...the amount of money we have raised reached the $1000 mark! Reaching this milestone was pretty easy as we were the recipients of a $500 donation! My dad was very excited to call me on Tuesday to tell me that someone had just dropped a $500 check for him to give Jack. I want to publicly thank Tom for this donation, we are all VERY touched at your generosity. With the money you have given us, we can brighten the lives of 20 very-deserving children...not to mention teach our own children a very important lesson on generosity and selflessness. So, thank you very much...and to quote Jack, "that's a whole lotta bears I get to make. I better get to work."

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Lemonade Stand!!!1

We'll be at Spectrum School's Rummage Sale Bazaar this Friday and Saturday! Please come and support us as we sell lemonade! We'll be there Friday from 4-8 and Saturday from 11-3.

Spectrum School is located at 2909 N Main street in Rockford. Stop by and do some shopping...there are MANY families that have donated household items, clothes, etc to sell. And while you're there, stop by and buy a cup of lemonade!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

News Broadcasts

Here's a link to the news broadcasts:




Who would have thought? This charity started out as an idea Jack had when I was trying to keep him distracted on a long and uncomfortable car ride. We as parents tell our kids they can do anything....but do we really believe that? I think I do now!!!

Because of these broadcasts, our inbox has been full! We've gotten some donations (you can now donate directly through paypal on our website.... http://www.littlehandsmakeabigdifference.com/ ) Some emails have been to say what you're doing is great. But, the majority of emails have been other moms writing to tell their story of their child and their experience at Rockford Memorial. I've read many heartwarming and heartbreaking stories of kids fighting their fights and it's nice to make those connections with moms that have "been there too." So, we are very thankful to the news stations and the newspapers for sharing our story with the community!

We are making plans for more fundraisers, waiting to hear back on a great opportunity. Jack's classroom wants to partner with us, and we are very excited about that. So, we'll keep you updated. Until then...thank you to all who donated and we'll keep building the bears!

Monday, August 31, 2009

First Bear Donation!

We delivered our first set of 20 bears to Rockford Memorial today. It was very exciting, as we were met with several news cameras! Jon and Jack talked to the cameras and they did a fabulous job sharing with everyone all the great things about our charity.

Jack got to deliver one of the bears to a patient, and that was definitely the highlight for him.

Here's some pictures.

Talking to Joelle Parks. She was so sweet and put Jack at ease.

A VERY deserving patient receives our FIRST bear donation!



Sunday, August 30, 2009

More Bears!!!

With all the donations we've been getting lately (it's amazing...checks everyday!), we headed to Build-A-Bear to make some bears. This time we decided to do some of the more-expensive bears, so we were able to get 8 bears (and kittens). They are so very cute! We bought them the same outfit, surgical scrubs. We went to Fox Valley mall this time instead of Woodfield, and it was worth the extra 45 minute drive. Jennie was our helper and she was AMAZING! She instantly fell in love with Jack and his story. They chatted the whole time and by the end she had tears in her eyes. She just loved what he's doing so much that she donated a bear and an outfit to Little Hands Make A Big Difference! We loved her so much, we decided from here on out we will just call the BAB in Fox Valley and go at a time when she is there.

Tomorrow is our big donation day! We had to Rockford Memorial Hospital to donate 20 bears!!! We wrote a little letter to stick inside the bear houses wishing the recipient get-well-soon wishes. I'll be sure to bring my camera and post pictures.

We're currently working on getting some paperwork done in order to get 501 (c) status. This will make us a "real" charity recognized by the state of Illinois. It's a lot of paperwork and legal-speak for me to comb through, but so far I'm understanding it! Wish us luck, how exciting!!!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Good Morning America!!!

My favorite GMA segment is "these three words." I sent a video in of Jack and he made it on this Saturday!!!!!

He's at the one minute mark.


Sunday, August 16, 2009

Website and Logo

Very exciting news here! We have a logo now. A good friend offered to do a logo for us and within hours came up with something that is just perfect! So a huge thanks to April Corsmo!!!

Our website should be up very soon, so be on the lookout at http://www.littlehandsmakeabigdifference.com

Saturday, August 8, 2009

First Donation!!!!

WOW!!! What a week for Little Hands Make A Big Difference! We made our first donation to a VERY deserving little boy, Cooper Knight. Here is Cooper's story, http://cotaforcooperk.com/

We were honored to send Cooper a Batman Power Wheels like the one below so that he can enjoy playing outside with his older brothers and sister.

With all the money we had raised we took a trip to Build A Bear. We made 12 animals (bears, bunnies, and dogs) and are going to donate them to Rockford Memorial Hospital.
Each animal has a red heart inside of it. We wished for health and happiness on each heart, kissed it, and tucked it inside the animal.

Then, we used to foot pedal to stuff the bears and hugged them before sewing them up to make sure they were the perfect amount of squeezability in them.

We bathed and groomed the bears and then they were ready to go!

We bought them each a special doctor's outfit, and at home we dressed each one and put them in their own special cardboard box house where they will stay until they find their new homes!

We are thrilled with our first week of donations! The kids are so excited to hear from Cooper once he gets his Power Wheels. Build A Bear was so much fun. They put a lot of thought and love into their animal and were so excited to think of the comfort and happiness their animals will bring!