Organization: NICU Cheer
Founder: Maddie Francis
Outreach: Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.
In 2016 my son was born at 30 weeks. He had stopped all fetal movements on Mother’s Day. After the first day of tests cleared him the hospital told me to wait a week before coming back, but I went back the next day and despite the nurse rolling her eyes and trying to send me home, I insisted they check again and this time the tests showed what I already knew – something was very wrong. My son was delivered silent and still a few hours later and taken straight to the NICU where he was ventilated and we spent the next 6.5 weeks there with him.
I set up NICU Cheer as my first Christmas after having Ashton I just couldn’t shake the feeling of how horrible it must be to have you precious little ones in the NICU over Christmas when everyone should be getting together with family and it should be a joyous occasion which would be hard to do with a child fighting for their life. So I wanted to give parents something to cheer them up and also let them know they’re not alone on this journey.
The first year I hoped to do one hamper and put the call out to my friends, family and fellow NICU Mums and was overwhelmed with donations. I received so much I was able to do 61 individual gift bags so one went to every cot in our NICU/SCN as well as 18 hampers for the hospital. Three years on and we now do 200 gift-bags/hampers every delivery and have expanded to 3 hospitals across Melbourne. The plan will be to deliver to all 5 hospitals with the most acute NICUs by 2021. We also now do Mother’s Day and Father’s Day deliveries. Our first was set to be delivered on Mother’s Day 2020, but Covid-19 cancelled that unfortunately, but we are gearing up for Father’s Day and Christmas Deliveries.
Companies now donate items directly to us and we have a gift registry for the public to buy items to go into our bags which have quadrupled in size. They are full of items like premature clothing, luxury toiletries, snacks, NICU specific milestone cards, teeny beanies, scented candles, books and more. The bags weigh a few kilograms each as they contain so much and every message we get back from parents makes my heart sing and all of the work that goes into putting the bags together is totally worth every single second.
The public can buy gifts directly from our registry: https://thankfulregistry.com/nicucheer