Family announces second year of 'Project Christmas Lilie'
Last year Jen Clark started Project Christmas Lilie. This year, she'll continue the tradition of collecting toys to deliver to hospital patients for Christmas.
Clark started the project as a way of honoring her late daughter, Lilie, who died Sept. 3 after a 22-month battle with congenital heart disease and a rare genetic enzyme deficiency.
The conditions of the disease had Lilie in and out of the University of Minnesota Children's Hospital and the Children's Hospital in St. Paul. Now, the Clark family is giving back.
The project started last year when the Clarks collected toys and goodies to gift to hospital bound children on Christmas. Because of the popularity, the family decided to do Project Christmas Lilie again.
"At first we weren't sure if it would be an annual thing, but someone remembered us from last year's project, someone who donated, and they said that if we did it again this year to stop by because they would be very happy to donate again," Jen Clark said. "That was what really made me go ahead with it, like Lilie's work here still must go on."
The University of Minnesota Children's Hospital has 100 beds on the pediatric floor. The goal is to provide gifts to each child staying on the floor.
Most of the patients range from 4 months old to 2 years old; however, the hospital treats youth ranging from 3 months old to teenagers.
Suggested donations include disposable cameras, stockings and stocking stuffers, toys, clothes, stickers, goodies, board games, miniature trees for their hospital rooms, books and Christmas cards. Monetary donations are also welcome and will be used to buy more gifts. Gifts will be accepted until Dec. 20 and can be dropped at The New Richmond News, 127 S. Knowles Ave.; United Methodist Church, 209 E. Second St. in New Richmond; The Bridge, 735 Rivard St. in Somerset; or by e-mailing Clark at firstname.lastname@example.org.
"I think the biggest reason that we made this happen is because of all of the children and families who are hospital bound over the holidays," Clark said. "People there sometimes have loved ones so ill that the hospital becomes like their second home, so why not help give them the things that can make their long and short stays a little brighter?"
Last year was the first year for Project Christmas Lilie and Clark said she was overwhelmed by how generous the community was.
"Last year we were able to give each patient one or more gifts, each family a Christmas card, many toys and blankets to the little kids, decorations for their rooms, we were able to stock the two younger kids' playrooms and the teen room with various items from coloring books to board games," she said. "We were able to stock the family lounge (that has a full kitchen, bathroom and laundry) with food for the families to eat, cook and laundry soap for them to do laundry. There was so much we were able to give to so many there last year, we just had to try and make it a success for them again."
Clark hopes to add more drop sites for donations. As those sites become available, they'll be posted on flyers throughout the community.
For information on Lilie's story or on Project Christmas Lilie, visit www.caring bridge.org/visit/lilieclark.