IRVINE, CA - The “Spring Basket of Miracles” event near the Irvine Spectrum on Saturday, April 2nd, was quite an operation of importance and productivity. Since 2002, the California-based non-profit has supported families struggling to win the battle against a child’s life-threatening illness, providing essentials like financial support, housing, access to counseling, and more. Every spring, their “Spring Basket of Miracles” event brings together hundreds of volunteers and celebrity guests to assemble gift baskets for the families on their roster. This event featured the OC Sheriff Department helping deliver packages to children.
Unlike many nonprofit operations where families in need contact the organization directly to express their need, the beneficiaries of the baskets are qualified through service providers working in hospitals. These partners include CHOC Children’s Hospital, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, UCLA Mattel Children's Hospital, Rady Children’s and UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital, and Loma Linda University Hospital will be added this year. They serve families all the way up to Mammoth and the Bay Area.
This allows “Miracles For Kids” to identify the families most in need. Taking a holistic approach, the organization focuses on benefiting the entire family, recognizing that parents of critically ill children are impacted heavily, especially those with financial struggles, as well as siblings of the critically ill child, who may be neglected as all the care and attention goes to their sibling.
The actual day’s events involved bringing together volunteers, mostly children, from about 20 school partners, such as Girl Scouts, Lion’s Heart Teen Volunteers, MCL and more community groups. These children spent their Saturday morning in an assembly line, picking goodies from each station, based on the age and gender of the child. These included food, books, toys, stuffed animals, hygiene packs and other necessities. Due to the occasion, there were also extra goodies with an Easter theme.
Another set of volunteers deliver the completed baskets to the families through 33 different routes that were identified and organized.
I was able to catch up with founder and CEO Autumn Strier who has run the organization for 18 years, hailing from my hometown, Apple Valley. We both bonded over our shared heritage and understanding that many kids and families fall between the cracks, especially those living in poverty. “I grew up in an area where I was on the receiving side of charity. And it was so important to have community support. I know just how hard it is to put food on the table and gas in the car. Put the pandemic and inflation on top of that, and then just think about how hard it is to raise a family. And then you have a child with a critical illness. Those are layers that nobody should have to battle on their own. So we try to make it a little better.”
Board member and head of the “Surf and Paddle” program Tom Swanecamp, spoke about his program which integrates the entire family for a day at the beach. Activities include 5 camps in the summer focused on stand up paddle boarding, surfing at Newport pier, beach cleanups, yoga and sandcastle building. These include education about the environment. Tom works closely with Boardriders Foundation, and big names like Quiksilver, Roxy and Billabong have sponsored this event.
Other volunteers spoke glowingly about the “Miracle Manor” right by CHOC, where 12 families with the biggest financial need, stay close to the hospital, in a gated community. These are the families most in need, who cannot financially make it back and forth to the hospitals for treatment.
With programs providing financial aid, basic needs, housing, and wellness to patients and their families, Miracles for Kids fulfills a mission to help caregivers battle bankruptcy, homelessness, hunger, and depression, so they can concentrate on what matters most.
Here are three ways to join in on the fun and help make a real impact this season:
Follow on Instagram @MiraclesForKids to see how your efforts make a difference or simply spread the message. Discover ways to get involved year-round - such as internships, community programs, giving circles, or events - at MiraclesForKids.org.
Marc Ang (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a community organizer in Southern California and the founder of Asian Industry B2B. He has been involved with charitable causes since before the inception of his organization and loves helping nonprofits that are mission-driven and well run, operationally. Marc’s book “Minority Retort” will be released in early 2022