I don't usually post a lot of resources that only operate in a local area (especially if it's not even my area!), but I heard about Tori via Recklessly Alive's Sam Eaton, and was so encouraged by the work she is doing, I thought it might be a good inspiration for others!
As Sam explained it, "Out of her own story of panic attacks, self-harm and an attempt [at ending her life] she created Gifts of Hope, where she brings gifts to kids and teens in psychiatric care." You can read all about it and see photos of what she’s accomplishing on her Facebook page. Way to go, Tori!
Below is her story:
Gifts of Hope was created to bring hope to the kids who are currently staying in adolescent psychiatric units of local hospitals. We want to give hope to the kids and teens that have to go through a little extra every day. We collect stuffed animals, throw blankets, and a bunch of other things and we give the gifts to the staff at the hospitals, who then give the gifts to the kids and teens.
My inspiration for Gifts of Hope:
When I was 13, I went through a very difficult time in my life. I was depressed and anxious all of the time. On average, I had about 3 panic attacks a day at school. I was constantly being bombarded with the screaming voices in my head saying that I wasn’t worthy or enough and that nobody would care if I was dead. On average, I would self-harm 5-7 times per day. I was in a very dark place but I didn’t tell anybody about what I was going through at the time.
Then I made a public suicide attempt by attempting to jump off of a bridge. In total, I stayed at Abbott Northwestern three times and Fair View one time. One of the times that I was at Abbott, I was having an especially hard day and a nurse noticed. The nurse ended up giving me a floppy eared, brown puppy stuffed animal. It might not seem like much, but to me it was everything. That nurse made me feel like someone outside of my family wanted me to get better and actually cared about me. It gave me hope again. That’s why I started Gifts of Hope. To give hope to the kids and teens that need hope more than ever! Now two years later at 15 I’m happier than I’ve ever been in my entire life! I'm living life to the fullest!
Another reason why I started Gifts of Hope is that while I was at Abbott I noticed how desperately the kids needed markers and coloring books. A lot of the kids were stuck in hospital scrubs the entire time because a lot of the times family members wouldn’t even come and visit them to bring a change of clothes! The kids and teens also had games, but not very many. The ones that they did have were torn up, colored on, or there were pieces missing.
The last reason why I started Gifts of Hope is because there is such a stigma around mental health! The stigma needs to stop. I'm hoping that my story will help change that.
Things that we are accepting:
Soft throw blankets. No comforters or large blankets.
Fidgets. Stress balls, fidget cubes, etc.
Card games, board games, and puzzles. No sharp or little pieces.
Adult coloring books, washable markers, and colored pencils.
Stuffed Animals for ages 10+ that are new or gently used. No long limbs.
Cash is always appreciated! The money will go towards buying items for the kids and teens.