I love Thanksgiving, and always have. I remember very clearly dressing up in black and white and wearing my homemade pilgrim hat to my Grandma's house one year in elementary school. I have good memories of Thanksgiving at my Grandma's, and I have good memories of Thanksgivings as an adult, too. We almost always celebrate Thanksgiving with family and/or friends; I wish I had kept a list of each Thanksgiving and where we spent it/who was present. I might be able to recreate it. I think only one year did Matt and I have Thanksgiving with just the two of us, and it also ranks in my happiest holiday memories list because we made alternative dishes like homemade turkey pot pie and pumpkin bread pudding. It was fun : )
Recently, fellow reader/blogger/scrapbooker/mama to a Gracie Jamie Walton and I were introduced to the story of a little baby in Washington state named Mia McDonald, who was born a few months ago with a condition called Critical Aortic Stenosis. Her only hope for survival was a heart transplant. While neither of us know Mia's family, we were both struck by the heart-rending situation. As one might imagine, the medical bills and related costs are extremely high; Mia's family and friends have created all sorts of options for fund raisers, auctions, and other donation opportunities to help defray some of those costs. As strangers, it didn't immediately occur to us to do anything besides read about her and be hopeful that Mia would receive the best medical care possible and receive a heart from a family who chose organ donation.
At the same time as I was reading about this baby, I was thinking about Montana and the first time I visited Matt in Great Falls a few months before we got married. He must have had a ride to work, because I had the Jeep at my disposal to go exploring. It was a dreary day, and I was driving on one of the one-way streets (1st? 2nd?) and the Jeep stalled on me (not uncommon, its only character flaw) and I panicked a little as I steered it to the side of the road. I unwittingly flooded it trying to get it started again. By this time it was raining, I really had no idea where I was, had no cell phone (it was 1995) and knew NO ONE to call anyway besides Matt, and I don't think I had a number to reach him. But then a nice lady in an older beige Dodge Caravan pulled over with her middle school-aged son and asked if I needed help. I made the decision to go ahead and trust they weren't going to kidnap me and accepted their ride back to the apartment. I don't know their names; I should have asked, but didn't. I always wondered who they were when I lived there, and looked for that van in hopes that I could say thank you properly. But I never saw it. Still, I was thankful for their kindness and assistance to a complete stranger.
I've never forgotten the kindness of those strangers.
Of course, then it occurred to me that strangers might help little baby Mia and her family, too. She recently received a heart transplant, and still has many barriers to overcome before she can a.) go home and b.) be declared healthy. Jamie and I thought it would be nice if everyone reading might consider donating a small amount of money to Mia's medical fund—maybe $1 per member of your family. Every small amount would help, I'm sure, and Mia will benefit from the kindness of strangers this Thanksgiving. If you blog, you might post your own story of thankfulness for a stranger, or even just mention it to a friend. A few dollars here and a few dollars there add up to more dollars than they had before.
Her family maintains a website, as do family friends; they've created a way to donate funds through Paypal (it's on the top right of the friends-maintained blog) or at any USBank in the United States (the Mia McDonald Fund). No one has much extra cash this year, but everyone has a little room in their hearts for a baby who is learning how to live with her new one.