The reason for this speech was to justify the recommendation of Acorns Children’s Hospice as the nominated charity for 50% of the money raised for the US Christmas raffle. With around 100 staff in the room, the noise level began at low, moved through to quite, on to silent, and ended at vacuumous.
Ending on a high note, I encouraged everyone present to request an invite to visit a children’s hospice for a brief period. I ensured them they will witness something totally unexpected – something contrary to what preconceptions will have told them takes place.
The truth is that Children’s hospices are NOT places to simply go and die. They are places where experienced and highly qualified staff help children and families make the most out of every second of precious life – albeit that the life is limited. These establishments can genuinely be places to find smiles and laughter. You will witness children playing games with each other; parents with terminally ill children being able to relax and talk to people in exactly the same situation; and willing volunteers dedicating precious time to read and play with life-limited children.
At the end of my speech I drew the winning raffle ticket. The prize was $500 cash. The winner, a lovely young lady called Brenda, hugged me and accepted her prize for the camera.
Then came the shock:
Taking back her original ticket cost of $20, Brenda promptly pledged the other $480 to Acorns.
I must admit, I thought this personal contribution, particularly at Christmas, was too much. I suggested that Brenda keep the $480, and donate $20 - After all, Acorns were already due to receive the other $500.
But Brenda was adamant. And though I have no wish to create any competition between the very generous amounts people are (and already have been) contributing, a single, personal donation of $480 is simply outstanding!
The new, updated figure of raised funds will soon be available on http://www.justgiving.com/Alan-Gale1. In the mean time, I’d like to give a huge personal thank you to Brenda, and to Dovetail for deciding to nominate Acorns for their chosen charity this year.