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The True Spirit of #GivingTuesday

The Tuesday after Thanksgiving, also known as #GivingTuesday, encourages people to support the charities and nonprofits they care about. Many of these organizations rely on the support of donors to help advance their mission. But support doesn’t always have to be monetary. It can be shown through acts of kindness, especially volunteerism.

Melody Khodaverdian, vice president of partnerships at Forbes, is someone who embodies the spirit of #GivingTuesday. Guided by the idea of paying it forward, Melody volunteers on a regular basis at Hope & Heroes. While her fun themed events are a hit with our patient families, Melody receives so much more in return. Read on to learn more about Melody’s passion for volunteerism and why she believes anyone can make a difference.

I have been volunteering for kids with cancer and their families for about eight years, the last two years with Hope & Heroes. Before I moved to New York nearly three years ago, I was involved with a camp for kids with cancer in Toronto, Canada. During that time, I had a memorable experience with a young patient that continues to motivate me and my volunteer work.

A young woman called SuperGirl, a seven-time brain tumor survivor and the most radiated child in Canada, had a craniotomy. I visited her in the hospital and took a craft so we could do an activity. She had just come off a six-hour surgery and the first thing she said to me was, “Melody, it’s good to see you. How are you?” I just couldn’t process how someone who had been through what she had been through cared enough to ask how I was doing. That single interaction gave me so much perspective.

How many times have we heard of a family that had to cancel a vacation because of treatment? What about a child that was too sick to go outside and play with friends? Through themed activities and parties, my goal is to bring the impossible to kids in the clinic. Whether its a “Winter Wonderland” event because they can’t go outside and make a snowman or an “Under The Beach” because they can’t go swimming with the fishes, we try to push the boundaries on imagination and where it will take us.

The three hours I spend in the clinic go by so fast! If I could, I would offer more volunteers and more programming. But the gratitude of spending an hour or more doing a craft, talking to patients, or doing some sort of activity—I’ve never experienced anything like it before. Being able to witness their outlook on life and incredible bravery has been life-changing.

My heart is with these kids and their families and I receive such a renewed sense of hope every time I volunteer at Hope & Heroes. It’s literally my favorite day of the month! There is nothing better than giving back to others. And you don’t have to be a philanthropist or have a ton of money. You just have to be willing to give your creativity and your time to do something you’re passionate about. Everyone can make a difference.

I genuinely believe in the concept of paying it forward. So if a family is impacted positively by an experience they’ve had at Hope & Heroes, they’re going to pay that forward. Planting those seeds of kindness and giving back is so important, now more than ever.

You too can make a difference. #GivingTuesday is the perfect opportunity to help children and adolescents with cancer or a blood disorder right here in the tri-state area and around the country. When you donate to Hope & Heroes, you support cutting-edge research, treatments, and programs that give our patients the best chance of overcoming their disease. Click here to learn more.

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