Charities for Kids: The Starlight Children's Foundation

An Exceptional Non-Profit Charity for Children for Over 25 Years

Of the many excellent charities for kid that exist, The Starlight Foundation is a notable one for it’s exceptional and continuing support of over 25 years for kids and their families struggling with cancer and other terminal illnesses.

The Starlight Children’s Foundation original aim was to simply grant the wishes of terminally, critically and chronically-ill children. Founded by English actress, star of The Colbys and former star of General Hospital along with her cousin film executive Peter Samuelson, the Starlight Children’s foundation began in the very early 1980’s. Emma Samms' own brother endured a terminal illness and died at a very young. This led her and her cousin to create this charity to brighten and improve the lives of similarly sick children.

They have done so and how.

Then and Now

When I began volunteering for the Starlight Children’s Foundation in the first few years of the charity’s formation, the organization was just named The Starlight Foundation.  This non-profit was very tiny back then and only a small group of volunteers existed to meet at one another’s homes to plan events and grant wishes. This children’s charity has since then evolved into a much larger organization with websites, actual staff in addition to volunteers, ofices and national and international locations. Likewise, the charity has also greatly expanded its focus.

The Starlight Children’s Foundation now provides a wide range of wonderful services that has grown to not only providing children with wishes for them and their families to enjoy but to providing ancillary services such as educational resources, hospital-based treatment rooms, entertainment and entertainment centers within the walls of many hospitals.  Many hospitals now have dedicated fun centers, play rooms, PCs, flat screen TVs, internet access and video game systems. Other outside events such as ball games or parties also comprise many of the other fun and vital offerings that the Starlight Children’s foundation still provides to children.

Teens also now have Starbright World, which is the charity’s own social network, devoted to helping teens and their peers relate, have fun and communicate all while having to cope with their respective treatments like chemo and their various medical conditions.

Especially impressive is the foundation’s Coping with Chemo animated videos for kids that help ill children, their families and their friends learn more about cancer and leukemia and for kids  themselves to learn what to expect and understand what it is like to experience chemo and the ill effects of treatment.

By making it possible for a child to meet his favorite celebrity, travel or to receive a desired wish or gift, the foundation has brought hope and relief into the lives of so many children and their families. The wish experience brings happiness, good memories and a respite for all coping with the harsh realities of cancer, chronic illness and disease.

Helping Children around the World

Starlight has grown nationally and globally to serve other communities besides Los Angeles, where the Foundation is headquartered. Additional chapters are located both across the country and around the world in countries such as the UK and Australia.
Supported by generous businesses, corporate partners, private donors, volunteers and celebrities, the Starlight Children’s Foundation is one of the best non-profit charities for kids in existence.

A very important premise of the foundation is that when a wish is granted to a sick child that it is necessary to involve the entire immediate family. The idea is to give the ill child the chance to experience and generate happiness and enjoyment with and for the whole family through a positive and joyful event. This becomes more critical when the child and his family’s emotional stability is in jeopardy due to the anxiety, isolation and the rigors of hospitalization, chemo or any other prolonged treatment associated with a chronic or terminal illness.

My Volunteer Experience

At the time I was a volunteer, I was under 21 and could not directly work with any child.  So instead of being a wish-grantor, I assisted on one of the event planning committees. For my part as a volunteer during the first five years of the organization, I participated in assisting with the plans for a Valentine’s Day Dinner event. I helped to fold and stuff beautifully designed invitations into envelopes on the mailing committee and was an event volunteer on the evening of this gala dinner. While it was a fun event with the casts of both Dynasty and The Colbys attending, the real stars of the evening were not the celebrities, but the children, for whom we had all gathered together to raise money and celebrate their inspiring victories.

It was tremendously rewarding working as a volunteer with this organization. If it were not for college, a few moves and the fact that the nearest chapter to me is now three hours away, I would still be volunteering for this children's charity. It was and still is very moving to hear that while some children do die after their wish is granted, others experience a remarkable healing event or make a complete recovery. One such story I remember was that of a child who had been struck by lightning and had suffered complete paralysis as a result.  This particular child then met his favorite celebrity who kept in regular contact with him.  During two of the celebrity's calls to the child, the ill child experienced two major accomplishments, one being able to swallow for the first time and, two, to being able to say ‘hello’ which was also remarkable given his injuries.

Another recollection involved a mother writing in to tell us that her son’s wish helped him avoid further hospitalization. A victim of cystic fibrosis, this boy received a 4-wheeler as his wish.  The continuous jostling of frequent 4-wheeler rides, with its particular motion, helped keep this child's lungs from filling with liquid.

An Impressive Experience Rather Than a Sad One

It is impressive and not depressing to have seen so many children so positively affected and given so much pleasure by the gesture of a wish having been fulfilled, in addition to the wish fulfillment itself. Seeing a child’s last days made special, even by extension, did not feel hard but very extraordinary because of the very positive changes in their lives.

If you are interested in learning more about the Starlight Children’s Foundation or wish to explore one of their volunteer opportunities, find out more about this terrific organization by going to their website. They also have a presence on Facebook, Twitter and on YouTube. You can also help kids and this charity by using EBay’s charity arm, Mission Fish, too to make a donation once you have won an online auction. Do also visit YouTube to watch one of the Coping with Chemo Webisodes. You will be impressed.