Left Hand Valley Courier - All Local, All The Time

By Vicky Dorvee

Niwot High Students send Holiday Cards to Hospitalized Kids


February 1, 2018

Courtesy Photo Niwot teacher Michelle Rickley’s Algebra 1 students, the Student Council, and Casey Longo’s classes joined forces and created handmade holiday cards for children who have to spend the holidays in the hospital.

Niwot High School math teacher Michelle Rickley recently received a heartfelt “thank you” letter that included the line, “On behalf of our card-receiving patients around the country, thank you for helping us spread hope, joy and magic to sick kids!”

The letter sent by the Founder and Executive Director of Cards for Hospitalized Kids (CFHK), touched Niwot High School staff and students in a profound way.

Rickley, organizer of the holiday card project at Niwot High School, said that as she read the letter in its entirety to the students who had created the greeting cards, “you could hear a pin drop.”

Prior to the holidays, Rickley’s online search for a community service project that involved spreading care and empathy to sick children led her to find the CFHK organization.

“It was exactly what I was looking for,” Rickely said.

Located in Illinois and founded five years ago, CFHK is a non-profit group that has given over 100,000 cards to children around the world who are either in Ronald McDonald Houses or in hospitals.

With fellow teacher Casey Longo, Rickley embarked on a project that felt near and dear to her. “I have been around kids with cancer and I wanted our students to think outside of school and about other people besides themselves.”

Rickley, in her first year as the student council sponsor, used money raised through the student council when she headed to a Michael’s store and purchased “a ton of stickers, glue, glitter, and paper.”

Several different classes and the student council, totalling more than 75 students including some from every grade, were told about the organization and the project. They were asked to put their best efforts into making beautiful, meaningful cards that would be given to children who were not able to be home for the holidays because they were too ill.

There have been many conversations since the teachers and students began the project about the impact of serious illnesses on families, how hard it is for children to endure chemo infusions, the danger of catching even a common cold, the difficulties of being in a hospital environment, and what could be the impact of knowing that someone from afar is thinking and caring about those who are going through these experiences.

CFHK, the charitable organization through which the cards were distributed, was started by Jen Rubino. Her appreciative letter to Rickley and her students explained, “I know about the impact of cards, not just from giving, but also from receiving.” She went on to write that when she was a child, she underwent more than 20 surgeries, and “receiving a handmade card gave me hope during my toughest hospital stay.”

Rickley was struck by how even “the toughest of students” came to understand that their compassion can make a difference in the lives of others.

She would like this project and sending cards for other holidays to become a tradition for Niwot High School students. Other community service projects are being considered as well: building trails, working in homeless shelters and anything that offers face-to-face opportunities to show empathy are tops on Rickley’s list for the student council undertakings.

About this most recent outreach project, Rickley said, “The students did a wonderful job, and exceeded expectations. They represented our school amazingly!”


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