Since we know we’re always asking people not to write ‘Get Well Soon’ and/or make religious comments on their cards, we’ll do the same with this blog post. Or maybe it’d be better to say at least we’ll try not to make any of those comments. This one will be a bit difficult. We may be thinking of something, but we won't refer to it.
Whenever we talk about the beginning of Cardz for Kidz! and its growth, we highlight how it was “accidentally started on purpose.” What we mean is that some of the baseline people purposefully started the organization but didn’t intentionally strive for it to grow to where we’d need cards in 10+ languages and send them around the world. As our organization expanded, the team wondered how we could get some of the essential assistance we’d been praying (sorry), pleading for. We’ve been telling our children, families and seniors how worthy they are and have been promising our partner contacts that we’d get them cards in ANY language they needed. Unfortunately, it seems like most groups send 90%+ of their cards strictly in English, though we have several locations here in the United States that want a minimum of 50% of their cards in another language. Additionally, around the holidays (e.g. Christmas or Valentine’s Day), 70% of the cards are focused on that holiday AND in English. With that math, it’s MUCH harder for us to reach our partner in Minnesota who strictly wants cards in Somali and Spanish. Or our partner in Illinois who wants 85% of their cards in Spanish. Or the partner in Washington who wants cards in any of these languages: Korean, Vietnamese, Mandarin, Filipino, and Russian.
The tough part is that we try EXTRA hard to make sure we give our partner locations WHATEVER kind of cards they want. In addition, we make sure we’re not flooding them with seasonal cards around the holidays since we know that’s what inexperienced groups do. We want to make sure they’ll be able to cherish all the cards we send them, so we give our partners a diverse set of themes, languages, and quality – which is often quite tough.
For more background, we make each location officially “pinky promise” that they’ll hand-deliver all of the cards. What that means is that we only send the cards once a quarter in order to not overwhelm them with cards. This way, we can still make sure #everycardcounts. Thus, when groups send hundreds or thousands of cards for one specific holiday, we can’t send those out to our locations since they need a mix of cards that they can use for 3 months – another reason why we recommend that people use card stock rather than construction paper; cards last longer and are of higher quality.
In the past, we used to primarily receive seasonal cards written in English and made on construction paper. On top of that, we would receive them RIGHT before the holiday so there was NO way we could get them to our partners around the world in time. If you’ve read prior blog posts, you know the rule: we must be “100% open and honest” in all of these. This is tough, but here’s some truth. As mentioned in the Families Too blog post, members on our team understand the impact that being a patient has on patients’ families. That’s why we’ve grown to do things ranging from donating cards to Ronald McDonald Houses across the globe to purchasing a video game system for a nonprofit that helps families impacted by cancer in Pennsylvania. That’s all positive, right? Here’s the negative part: Originally when we were making donations to Ronald McDonald Houses across the globe we were only reaching out to ones where we knew the attendees spoke English since those are the only cards we had; hence why we have so many more partnerships in Australia. The problem was we didn’t have enough cards in other languages to reach out to other countries. In addition, all the letters to those Ronald McDonald Houses included this text:
“Please let me know if you guys would be interested in receiving these cards on a quarterly basis. If so, all I’d need is a point person, a promise the cards will all be hand-delivered to the families in your homes, and how many cards you’d like per quarter.”
When our Ronald McDonald Houses in the USA followed up and said they wanted to start receiving cards on a quarterly basis, we immediately confirmed and sent them their set number of cards each quarter. For example, we’re not sure if you recall the situation OR us talking about it, but there was the ‘Austin Serial Bomber’– a person who was sending explosive packages across the state of Texas. We wanted to be a positive ray, so we decided to send packages of cards to EVERY Ronald McDonald House in Texas in Q1 2018; that’s why we’re currently partnering with 3 Ronald McDonald Houses in that state. The only difference is when they responded and said they were interested and wanted to be a partner we didn’t immediately ask if they needed cards in any other languages. The main difference was back in 2018 we were NOT equipped to do that.
Here’s a glimpse from one of the recent emails from a partner Ronald McDonald House in Texas
This is a blog post, so we’re still being 100% open and honest. Getting enough cards in Spanish is still difficult, but thankfully these days it’s no longer impossible. Nowadays when we reach out to a new location and they’re interested in receiving cards we ALWAYS ask them what languages they need, even though most of our artists send us cards in English. In fact (sorry, please don’t look down on us) we probably sounded pretty cocky (intentionally used cocky – negative connotation rather than confident) when we were talking to Alaska Regional Hospital and we followed our normal script that went something like this:
Founder: standard message “I’m guessing you want English, but do you guys need any other languages?”
Alaska Regional: “Oh, that’s great. Yeah, definitely English, but the other language I can think of would be if we could get some cards in Samoan. I understand if you can’t…”
Founder: politely interrupts “Yeah, we can get that for you. We’ll send you a total of 30 cards in Samoan and English each quarter.”
At that point we had NEVER received a card in Samoan. We didn’t even have the Samoan language on our helpful blog post – www.cardzforkidz.org/nope-im-all-set – but we knew about something a bit better. A group of people that have changed things over the years. Individuals who don’t strictly make holiday cards in English on construction paper, but instead make world-renowned cards on card stock that can be used all year round. Who are they?
To be honest, we’re not entirely sure, but we’ll start off by calling them what we referred to them as in the beginning: Jill B & Friends in Houston, TX. Who are they? Again, not sure. How did they find us? Who knows? What we do know is they have a perfect combination of
quality and quantity. They’ve made it into the OVERALL Top 10 and have already made over three thousand cards, including some cards in Samoan that we have sent to Alaska.
Some of the original posts about this group were simply referring to them as Jill B & Friends, but as our partnership grew, we started to refer to them as the Busy Bees. We can without a doubt describe this group as busy. Although we’re currently partnering with several Fortune 500 corporations, top universities, and world-renowned nonprofits, the Busy Bees are our #6 group in terms of the number of cards made. That includes them in the ranks next to global corporations who have offices all around the world joining into large universities who have participation ranging from current modern language students to various alumni groups.
So, yes, we’ve mentioned it in this post – these Busy Bees do have a mix of quantity and quality, but we still don’t think that fully explains it. We’ve received over 150,000 cards from artists around the world and only one set of artists has sent us a set of cards that were clearly marked as Samoan. In addition, we do post some Market Conditions updates on our Facebook Group and on social sites, but it’s VERY rare that there’s a team reaching out to us asking if they can make cards in other languages. With the Busy Bees they just contact us if we say we need cards in Polish, Romanian, French, etc. and they can then send hundreds of handmade cards in those languages. So impressive. Just this last week we sparked a new partnership with a Ronald McDonald House in Spain!
We’re now sending over 400 cards in Spanish to Spain, Mexico, Guatemala each quarter – plus ALL of our children and families in the USA who need cards in Spanish. Thankfully, we still feel comfortable.
In summary, whenever we’re pleading for help on cards and we’re asking how it can be done, it seems like the Busy Bees are the answer. We can only explain it as REFINED INTERVENTION that this group of artists has been able to work together to successfully meet our needs.
To see more pictures and stories, please check out our website www.cardzforkidz.org; like us on Facebook; follow us on Twitter and Instagram; visit our LinkedIn page! Also, check out some of our videos on YouTube!