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Creating Joy For Sick Kids

Many thanks to Miranda Merritt for a truly inspiring essay that reflects the spirit of the “Impact a Life” college scholarship.

Miranda describes how the simple act of creating joy for sick children inspires her to dedicate her life to service of others.

Miranda will be attending Spelman College in the fall with an intended major of Biomedical Engineering. We wish you the best of luck!

“Impact a Life” Scholarship contributor:  Miranda Merritt
Yоu саn hеlÑ€ Miranda Merritt’s pursuit оf a scholarship award bу сlісkÑ–ng the “sharing Ñ–Ñ• саrÑ–ng” buttоnÑ• bеlоw.



My transition from childhood into young adulthood started on August 26th, 2015, with a philanthropic activity. I asked that my friends and family put the needs of others above their own. I would like to think that on that day, my friends and family saw me as a leader. I have had the privilege of hearing “Happy Birthday” sung every year by loving family and friends. My birthday is always a grand celebration that we all look forward to, with pink, sparkly decorations, and sweets galore. I have been blessed to have such amazing parties, thanks to my wonderful parents. However, not everyone has the same blessings as me; so, I created a way to share my blessings with sick children on my sixteenth birthday.

In 2004, I had two God-sisters that were born with serious health challenges. The older one lives in Chicago, IL, while the younger one lives in Washington, DC. The early years of their life were spent in and out of hospitals; ironically, in different Children’s National Medical Center. Both God-sisters had to live with several restrictions and required lots of medications. One thing I hated about their restrictions was the fact that they could not have certain toys to play with because of the severity of their conditions. My prayer was always that they would get better and would be able to lead normal lives. After seeing how a lack of entertainment can cause depression on a child, I vowed to make the next patients’ experience better.

For a long time, I thought of my God-sisters every time I would open gifts after my birthday parties. As my God-sisters got older, their conditions improved and their limitations decreased. It was then that I decided that it was time to give back. On my fifteenth birthday while opening gifts, I began to plan for my next birthday, my Sweet 16, which was to be the biggest birthday bash yet. In lieu of gifts for myself, I planned to donate my presents to children who do not have the opportunity to receive gifts to the extent that I had. I gave myself a year to plan exactly how, and what gifts would be given, to whom, and through which organization.

Choosing Children’s National Medical Center was a no-brainer with its history of helping my God-sisters. I began by contacting the President of Children’s Hospital in DC to set up a toy drive. I named it, “Christmas in August for Dr. Bear’s Closet”. I even branded my decorations with the Dr. Bear logo. I drafted a letter explaining my intentions to my guest with a list of possible toys to bring, and included it in my invitations. I was truly unsure of what to expect come party time.

My guests donated almost one-hundred gifts! Everyone in attendance brought an abundance of toys, books, and monetary donations for the toy drive for Dr. Bear’s closet. The gift pile was larger than any one of my previous birthday parties. I coordinated with the representative for Dr. Bear’s closet to distribute gifts to the children. She was ecstatic at the sight of the boatload of gifts presented. It was completely humbling to see how elated the children were to receive something so simple as a toy on a day other than their birthday or Christmas.

Creating joy for sick kids has brought me more happiness than any birthday present. Both my healed God-sisters came into town and surprised me for the party, which was icing on the cake for me. As I led others to give, philanthropy allowed me to open the door to young adulthood; showing me a lifestyle of maturity. This is an experience that I shall cherish for the rest of my life. Looking at the positive effects I have on my community and beyond, compels me to create more charitable opportunities in every stage of life.