Giving Tuesday comes at a time of year when I give back in a way that always makes me smile. I’m proud donate my time, energy, and money all year long to our annual holiday gift giving fund for the young patients at the UVM Children’s Hospital. Here’s how and why I do it.
Before I came to the UVM Medical Center, I ran my own business for 25 years. Every holiday season kept me busy. I remember the holidays being fun, but very stressful – and they always seemed so short. Here, I finally know what it’s like to have a quiet holiday. But, alas, my children are all grown! So, I wanted to help some children who really needed it.
Enter Ann Young, head of my department, who I met shortly after joining the medical center. Ann and her team dedicate time throughout the entire year raising money for a fund to purchase presents for our UVM Children’s Hospital patients. On a special day in December, the gifts are laid out for children and families in one of our largest conference rooms. I did not know what to expect the first time I entered that room. When I did, I was overwhelmed with emotion. I just couldn’t believe my eyes – the whole room was full of toys and gifts everywhere you looked and the children and families couldn’t thank us enough for our help. I left the room with tears in my eyes – and then I was hooked.
Since then, I have been bugging Ann with ALL of my fundraising ideas – and she has warmly accepted them. I just knew from that first moment that I wanted to be a part of this holiday magic, especially after losing my own sister to cancer.
I started with eBay (confession: I was already an eBay junkie – now, I was putting that to good use). I sold just about everything I could get my hands on. I looked around my house and anything that wasn’t nailed down went online for sale. My wife started calling our garage Sanford & Sons’ place! My actions – and those of our amazing team had incredible impact. Our fundraising numbers started climbing, from $4,000 one year to $7,500 the next.
Meanwhile I kept brainstorming. I enlisted Snowflake Chocolates to donate raffle items, and I conceived our first “bowl-a-thon,” a new tradition. In our first year, we raised $3,800 for the kids, and this past month we raised $5,100 at our second annual event! This summer, someone gave me a John Deer tractor in rough shape. With the help of a few friends, we fixed it up and I sold it for $3,500. That went straight to our holiday fund.
Through it all, it has been my colleagues who bring it all to life. I am grateful for them – their passion and their efforts to help the kids, and for welcoming me into their efforts. It’s been a neat way for me to meet more people here. Last year, our team raised $20,000 for the kids – that’s a whole lot of presents! We aim to break our record this year. When I think about it I start to tear up, then I smile.
So, help the kids. Donate during Giving Tuesday. Every donation counts, no matter the size. You will make someone’s day – and you will find that you will make your own, too, when you do. I have learned that nothing feels better than giving back.
Bob Brosseau is an inventory controller at the University of Vermont Medical Center. He is looking forward to the UVM Children’s Hospital Annual Pie Toss on December 16 – and can’t wait to get a pie in the face!