Help Families in Crisis by Supporting Operation Family Care

Operation Family Care

Operation Family Care will collect gift cards and groceries for families in need. This is the first all-guild effort benefiting the Social Work Department, joining two guilds and four guild endowments that currently support social work.

Every hour of every day, families depend on Seattle Children's to provide expert, lifesaving care for their children. During an already difficult time, many families also worry about how to pay for essentials such as food, transportation and housing. Thanks to the Emergency Patient Assistance Fund, Children's social workers can help families with these and other basic needs, alleviating significant worries for parents so they can maintain their stability as they focus on their children.

More than 2,000 families received assistance last year, an increase of 43% from four years ago - and the need continues to grow. Guild Association trustees recently voted to support the Emergency Patient Assistance Fund via Operation Family Care - an all-guild drive to collect food and gift cards for families in crisis situations.

A critical need

Individual guilds have a long history of supporting patients and families through "heartwarming" projects by collecting or creating items such as toys, books and blankets. Operation Family Care is the eighth all-guild heartwarming drive and the first to support the Social Work Department. Previous drives resulted in the donations of infant toys, teen items and a five-year supply of crayons to the Child Life Department.

"Guild members have always understood that care at Children's is about more than medical needs," says Aileen Kelly, Guild Association executive director. "They know that things like handmade blankets matter to a family. Operation Family Care is another opportunity for our members to come forward and fill a gap that will help families when they are particularly vulnerable."

In 2011, 55% of Emergency Patient Assistance Fund expenses were used to purchase food and gas. "Operation Family Care will meet some of our greatest and most critical needs," says Roosevelt Travis Jr., director of Social Work at Children's. "In this economy, we're seeing more families facing eviction or the loss of electricity and heat. Guild support will also free up other dollars to stabilize these situations, which can have a profound impact on a family."

How to help

You and your guild can support Operation Family Care in two ways: donate gift cards or supply a month of groceries. Cash donations are also accepted.

"Donating a gift card may not be as fun as picking out a toy or game for a child," says Kelly. "But to a family in crisis, things like groceries and transportation can be the foundation that enables them to better support their child's treatment and recovery."

Consider these easy ways to collect gift cards:

  • Organize a drive in your community.
  • Ask friends and family to buy gift cards instead of presents for your birthday.
  • Involve your kids; suggest that they host a lemonade stand or a bake sale to help buy gift cards.
  • "Pass the hat" at a guild meeting and purchase gift cards with the contributions.
  • Add a "gift card table" to your silent auction, hang gift card "ornaments" on a Christmas tree at your holiday event, or creatively display gift cards in centerpieces for guests to purchase.

Operation Family Care concludes at our 2013 annual meeting. With your help, we will make a tremendous difference for families when they most need support.